With the success of the 3-D release of “The Lion King,” it’s no wonder a new version “Beauty and the Beast” arrives in theaters this weekend. The classic 1991 film was the first animated feature to be nominated for Best Picture and took home two Oscars for its beautiful soundtrack. More than two decades after its original release, “Beauty and the Beast” remains a timeless film that can be enjoyed by parents and children alike.
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I hadn’t seen the original “Beast” in more than a decade, but the movie remains as wondrous as ever. “Beast” tells the story of a unique and beautiful woman named Belle (Paige O’ Hara), who lives in a small town with her eccentric father (Rex Everhart). She’s considered weird by the townspeople who look down at her tendency to read books and a father who spends his days inventing new contraptions. When her father is imprisoned by a monstrous beast (Robby Benson), Belle switches places with her dad and moves into a castle with the beast.
The beast, however, is more complex than she originally presumed. He previously was a good-looking man who had a curse placed upon him when he denied an ugly woman entry into his home because of her looks. Eventually, Belle and the beast start falling in love despite his outwardly appearance.
The castle that the two live in is also full of wondrous supporting characters, including a talkative candlestick named Lumiere (Jerry Orbach) and a gentlemanly clock named Gaston (Richard White). These and other delightful characters help carry the story along. Angela Lansbury, of course, should be singled out for her delightful turn as a tea kettle named Mrs. Potts, who wants to give Belle a lovely home to live in.
It’s difficult to over-appreciate this classic film, which features a wonderful message about seeing the true beauty in people. The love story is wonderfully-told and the main characters are fully realized. Aside from that, the film’s vibrant colors are wonderful to behold, and the 3-D only adds to that. The new effects are more subtle than the typical 3-D effects where objects come flying off the screen.
The music remains one of the film’s main selling points. The soundtrack is phenomenal. From the exciting lyrics of “Be Our Guest” to the calm melodies of the title track, this film captures many of the reasons why Disney films are often a magical experience. Listening to the title song in the middle of the film actually gave me goosebumps.
“Beauty and the Beast” remains a Disney classic for many reasons. It may be a simple story that children can understand, but its themes and its presentation are magical. It’s no wonder that this film remains a modern-day classic.