Let’s face it. Those who know me know Beauty and the Beast is my all time favourite film. I literally own a version of the film on each format it has ever been released on, from VHS to Blu-Ray. I’ve seen every theatrical re-release, and saw the show several times on Broadway, including once with the Original Broadway Cast. If you’d say I was slightly obsessed, I’d probably agree.
So, why are we exactly talking about Beauty and the Beast? Why is it considered one of the most important and influential Disney films of all time? Could it be it celebrated its 25th anniversary this week, or there is a live action remake coming out in March? Or perhaps it could be the simple fact that Beauty and the Beast made significant film history when it was released. We’ll get to that though.
Beauty and the Beast is one of Disney’s most famous films and we all know the story. Beautiful girl meets angry beast, she teaches him how to love, typical battle and the beast transforms back into a prince. Everyone lives happily ever after.
Yes, it is a typical Disney story. However, that being said, BatB has had a significant impact, perhaps small but still significant, both within the Disney animated world, and within the film world. BatB became the first ever animated film to be nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award.
While it lost to Silence of the Lambs (let’s be real though, no other film that year stood a chance!), this nomination was significant enough to put a little Disney film into the history books. By Beauty and the Beast earning this nomination, the door was opened for any future animated films to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. It would take nearly 20 years for the next animated film to be nominated, but it did happen.
With the film recently celebrating its 25th anniversary, many events were held; these included the rerelease of the film on blu-ray, a panel held with the original film cast (minus Jerry Orbach) at both Comic Con and at The Academy. At one point earlier this fall, Angela Lansbury appeared on stage and flawlessly sang the main theme, accompanied by one of the film’s composers, Alan Menken.
What was so brilliant about Beauty and the Beast was the individuality of the characters, and to a very small degree, the story. It wasn’t all love at first sight (here’s looking at you, Ariel). Belle really was basically the first princess to have a mind of her own. A girl who thought for herself, didn’t immediately, nor rush to, fall in love, used her imagination (no, Gaston, not all books require pictures….), defended herself and even dared to use the word no; who knew, right? As for Beast, there’s no immediate dashing prince, or even the rugged good looks. We get to see change within all the characters, literally. It is such a classic.
The film wasn’t perfect, but oh, it still is one of Disney’s greatest. We can only hope the live action remake, which is splitting the opinions of fans right down the middle, can live up to its predecessor. With Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in the leading roles, with a supporting cast that includes Emma Thompson, Kevin Kline, Luke Evans, and Josh Gad fingers (and toes) are crossed.
The best thing about the live action remake is that original film composers Alan Menken and Tim Rice have returned to score this film. This is completely and utterly relevant, because having won two Oscars for the original film, the two know the music far better than anyone else. They have written new songs, and used original lyrics by the late Howard Ashman, who also composed for the original film.
The original film will always hold a special place in the hearts of many, myself included. Whatever may come of the live action remake, the original is still absolutely classic and is still a tale as old as time.
Happy Anniversary Beauty and the Beast