Beauty And The Beast

Beauty And The Beast (1991)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Extras: 3 Versions of the Film, Music Video, Behind-the-scenes footage, Games

Finally, one of my favorite Disney stories has been released on DVD. "Beauty and the Beast" is not only a special edition two-disc set, but is also an "experiential" DVD set that includes the new, breathtaking 91-minute Special Edition originally prepared for IMAX and Large Format presentation and features the newly-completed "Human Again" musical sequence deleted from the original release. Yes, I was singing this all day at work after I watched the movie. Why did they cut it from the original release? Who knows? From a story sense, it adds depth to the minor characters and their desire to be… well… Human again!

The DVD also includes [Take a breath here] the original Academy Award winning theatrical edition and the Work-In-Progress edition shown at the 1991 New York Film Festival (both 84-minutes long). Yowza! The Work-In-Progress cut presents a mixture of completed scenes with rough pencil sketches and unfinished footage mixed in. That’s three full-length versions all on one disc and the results are visually spectacular!

The <$16x9,anamorphic>ally enhanced 1.85:1 DVD exhibits a sharp, detailed images for the theatrical and special editions in a nearly flawless picture quality. All three versions of the picture were sharp and detailed. Colors are rich and vibrant, with full saturation and deep blacks. Strangely, though, there are a good numberof compression artifactes evident throughout the film, oftentimes giving the image a very fuzzy look. It is a bit strange that this slipped through <$THX,THX>’s certification as it is, since these artifacts can become quite distracting. The Work-In-Progress version is a mix of both near-final animation and raw sketches and layering. This version is full of dirt and artifacts but faults on this print are to be expected. This early version combines scenes with rough drawings and images.

The story – Once upon a time… there lived this beautiful young woman, Belle, who loved to read. One night, her father became lost in the woods. Belle set forth to search for him and found him imprisoned in a castle by a Beast that lived there. For the love of her father, she struck a deal to set him free in return for her own imprisonment. The uncaring and unloving Beast agreed, and Belle became the Beast’s prisoner. Will she ever escape? Will the Beast ever break the spell? Only love will tell.

If you have never seen this movie before, you’re in for a real treat. This movie has everything. You’ll love to hate the suave, good looking, studly ‘bad-guy’ and have complete empathy for the angry, uncaring, scary Beast. The songs will stick with you for days. The DVD will keep you occupied for weeks! This movie, the DVD… well… It’s an A-class production which features the voice talents of Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, Richard White, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers, Angela Lansbury, Rex Everhart & Jesse Corti.

Walt Disney Home Entertainment brings us "Beauty and the Beast" remastered in <$DD,Dolby Digital> 5.1, and boasts a wonderful full-bodied crisp soundtrack. The surrounds are used to reinforce the music and are active with surround activity throughout. Voices and sound effects were clear and natural.

It’ll take a week just to get through all the wonderful extras on this two-disc set. The main one is the commentary from directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise and producer Don Hahn and composer Alan Menken on Disk One. This commentary can only be found on the special edition version. The commentary is fun and informative where film DVD production details such as hiring of actors to provide voices and DVD special edition changes are discussed. "Sneak Peaks" can also be viewed including one for the upcoming IMAX SE of "The Lion King". Rounding out the first disc is a sing-along subtitle track for the film and an interactive game.

The second disc is jammed-packed with DVD extras. Three main sections include featurettes on the film’s special edition re-release with interviews with the two directors and creative staff. They discuss changes for the SE as well as the ideas behind the new release. Publicity galleries and costume design of "The Broadway Musical" are also included in the Broadway production featurettes.

Here’s a breakdown of the features and sections on disc two.
"A High Profile Preview" features the "Work-In-Progress" version at the New York Film Festival in 1991.
"Release and Reaction" section has a short featurette that goes over the high praise the film received upon release. "Awards" discusses the Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations the film received.
"Howard Ashman: In Memoriam" is a look back at the life of composer Howard Ashman who past away during the production of the film. This is a bit emotional so be prepared.
"Trailers and TV Spots" includes the trailers for the film.
"Beauty and the Beast" music video, performed by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson.
"Tricks of the Trade" featurette on early use of computers to aid in the animation.
"Animation" featurette includes interviews from the directors and many of the animators with "Animation Tests, Roughs and Clean-Ups" which gives viewers a chance to see the early phase of the animation, and a featurette about ace animator Glen Keane.
"The Characters" section offers a featurette on characters and story which includes a section that offers a featurette on casting and a gallery of character art.
"Production Design" includes a featurette on creating the look and mood of the visuals as well as image galleries of art design production.
"Development" offers a featurette on development of the story.
"Story" includes a featurette on "Finding the Story", an alternate version of "Be Our Guest", and an early version of "Human Again".
"The Music" section offers a featurette that provides a general overview of the work of the film’s composers and music department, while also providing a version of "The Transformation" with alternate score. The first main section of the second disc also includes a very short "Origins of Beauty and the Beast" featurette that talks about the history of the tale.
Celine Dion hosts a 30-minute "Making-Of".
Interactive games, music video and a "Disney’s Animation Magic" – a backstage tour of Disney’s animation studios.
"The West Wing" – you need a code given after completing the interactive game on the first disc.

Whew… is that enough? I’ve never navigated through a DVD with this much to offer.

Disney’s Platinum Special Edition of "Beauty And The Beast" is a must have for Disney Collectors! Do yourself a favor and put it on your DVD shopping list . The timing of this release is perfect for the Christmas season! You can’t go wrong if you want to use this DVD as a stocking stuffer for kids, movie buffs and DVD collectors alike. If I had three thumbs, I’d give both the movie and the DVD presentation three thumbs up!