“Beauty and the Beast” debuted in 1991 to critical acclaim. Kids, adults and even movie critics alike adored it and, for good reason, called it the best animated film ever. Now, 11 years later, a special edition two-disc DVD set has hit the shelves, rekindled the magic of the original classic and with a new musical sequence has given the viewer a completely new experience of the phenomenon that is “Beauty and the Beast.”
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, here’s what happens in this musical: An enchantress, treated poorly by a prince, transforms the prince into a beast. To break the spell, all he has to do is have a girl fall in love with him before the last petal falls off a mystical rose. Meanwhile, Belle (Paige O’Hara), the romantic, imaginative, carefree daughter of an eccentric inventor, is quickly becoming the object of affection for a strapping, devious lumberjack named Gaston. When Belle’s father gets lost on his way to a fair and is taken prisoner by the Beast, Belle volunteers to take her father’s place as prisoner. The Beast agrees, and with some help of Mrs. Potts, the teapot (Angela Lansbury “Murder…She Wrote”); Lumiere, the candelabra (Jerry Orbach) and Cogsworth the clock (David Ogden Stiers), the Beast’s heart warms to Belle. Despite Gaston’s best efforts, Belle and the Beast realize their true love, and find that true beauty is on the inside (excuse me while I get a Kleenex).
In addition to getting to see the only animated movie ever nominated for Best Picture, as well as two other versions of the movie (a special edition with the new song “Human Again” and a work-in-progress edition), Disney has seen to it that you get to learn everything you ever wanted to know about “Beauty and the Beast.” Disc two has hours upon hours of extras, the origin of the story, concepts behind characters, new songs, the magic behind animation, Broadway information and stories behind other Disney movies. That’s just scratching the surface. Exploring all the extras on disc two takes hours, and is great for any Disney fanatic. Two things keep it from perfection, however. One is a horrible music video by a teen pop group called Jump 5, which seems to call for people to put a hole in their TVs. The other refers to a game you play to try and break a spell similar to the one in the movie. You start this quest on disc one, and by using your remote control, follow Chip through several games. It was a mere bump in the road, though, compared to the multitude of other good items on this DVD.
This set is a definite must-buy for any little kid or just any Disney fan in general. It’s not a stretch to say that everyone likes this movie. The catchy tunes will run through your mind all day (“Be our guest, be our guest” … I can’t remember the rest) and the story will tame even the greatest beast inside you. This truly is the real deal. Job well done, Disney.