It’s been more than ten years since Disney’s masterpiece, Beauty & The Beast first hit theaters. It’s been ten years since I first fell in love with Belle, the lead female character…Beauty, if you will. And since it’s initial release ten years ago, Beauty & The Beast remains the only ever animated film to be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.
Well, never one to not wanna make money, Disney has re-released Beauty & The Beast, this time in the IMAX format. OK, I don’t think they needed the IMAX treatment, but let me tell you, after numerous viewings on video, it’s great to see it on the big screen again. I didn’t even mind that they actually added something to it, a never before seen musical number by the great team of Alan Menken and the late, great Howard Ashman, “Human Again”.
In ten years, B&B has not lost any of it’s magic. No, in fact, I swear it felt more magical. It’s a beautiful story told with really wonderful songs that not only entertain, but really do move the story along. The voices are perfect because back then Disney wasn’t just trying to cast stars in their animated films, they wanted good voices, voices that could speak volumes whether with dialogue or with lyric. This is probably best illustrated by Paige O’Hara who voices Belle. She has a wonderful singing voice as well as perfect delivery of the spoken dialogue. Mix that with the beautiful, yet rather simple art used to render Belle, and it’s a wonderful thing. I guess I can say that she is my favorite Disney character ever, and seeing B&B again, firmly re-establishes it as my favorite Disney film ever, a title it lost to and then shared with The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
All the voices are great here, Robby Benson as The Beast, although at times his voice is enhanced, Angela Lansbury, Jerry Orbach, who sings the classic “Be Our Guest”, and Disney veteran David Odgen Stiers.
The villain, Gaston, all that is wrong with the human male, really, is portrayed by Richard White, whom I have never heard of before, or since. Still, when he sings about himself and how great he is, it’s absolutely hilarious.
Interestingly, a small role in the film, Mr. D’Arque the asylum curator, is played by Tony Jay, who went on to voice the villainous Judge Frollo in Hunchback.
I dunno if Disney will follow up the IMAX release of Beauty & The Beast with a regular theatrical run like they did with Fantasia 2000, but either way, you should be sure to see this movie on the big screen again. Actually, I’m not crazy about the whole IMAX experience, I’ve seen two IMAX films now, and neither experience was all that smooth. But that has nothing to do with Beauty & The Beast specifically.
This kind of magic is just so hard to come by…
Don’t let it disappear!