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“A long time ago, in the faraway land of Ireland, there lived a little boy. This little boy loved the films of Walt Disney, more perhaps than anything else in the world. One dark and stormy night, an old beggar came to the door, seeking shelter from the never-ending Irish rain and the gentle whimsy of the locals. In payment for shelter, he offered the little boy a most precious gift; a VHS of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. And the little boy said “Screw off. I hate that movie.”
The beggar stared at the little boy for a good two minutes. Finally, he said:
“I’m sorry, I must have misheard you. I thought you said you hated Beauty and the Beast.”
“That’s crazy talk.”
“It does not suck. It’s the greatest achievement in the history of animation. It’s hot stuff, you little shit.”
“It’s boring. It’s a boring, overhyped, whiter than white bread slice of pandering Oscar bait.”
Suddenly, the beggar transformed into a powerful magician with the most pimpin’ moustache the little boy had ever seen.
He cast a spell on the little boy, transforming him into an unshaved mouse. The mouse begged for mercy, and the Magician told him that there was one way that he could become a human again. He must review every one of the Disney animated canon one after the other, so that he might learn to love Beauty and the Beast. If he could not find it in his heart to love that movie, and be loved by it in return, he would remain a mouse forever. As the years passed, he fell into despair.
For who could ever learn to love…a boring, overhyped, whiter than white bread slice of pandering Oscar bait?”
Ohhhh…I’m gonna catch hell for this one.
I don’t really like Beauty and the Beast.
Please, just step away from the comments! Let me explain!
It’s me. Okay? It’s me. It’s not the movie, it’s me. I know it’s not a bad movie. Hell, I know it’s a superb movie. And if you’re worried that I’m going to trash this movie that you love, and show you a whole bunch of flaws in it that you never noticed and ruin it for you forever, no. That’s not going to happen. I play fair on this blog, and this movie will be walking out with a very high score. Probably.
My dislike of this movie is, I freely admit, largely irrational. It’s kind of hard to put into words but…
Okay, the animation is top flight, the music and songs are some of Howard Ashman’s and Alan Menken’s best work, it has one of the best leads in the Disney canon…
But it’s just. So. WHITE.
It’s so white. It’s whiter than white. It’s “Gandalf after he comes back from the dead” white. It’s whiter than a Mitt Romney rally.
So there’s that. Plus, I don’t know if it’s just me, but there’s nothing more likely to push me into disliking something than being constantly told by everyone that I’m wrong, and I just don’t get it and that I should change my opinion because it’s clearly stupid and…oooooookay. I’m starting to realise why my wife hates Ariel now.
Sorry. It’s just a movie I’ve never been able to fall in love with. But hey, maybe this review will finally give me the chance to see this film in a new light and break the curse once and for all. We can hope.
Production began on Beauty and the Beast back in 1989 and it was originally intended to be a very different film from the one we have now. But around six months into production, director Richard Purdum and producer Don Hahn were ordered to scrap everything and start again from square one, retooling the film as a Broadway-style musical with songs by Ashman and Menken.
Ashman was eventually promoted from lyricist to goddamn executive producer, and probably had a bigger influence on the film than any other single person. Ashman worked tirelessly on this film, and with good reason. Ashman, like many thousands of other gay American men, was a victim of the AIDS epidemic of the eighties. He would live to finish all of the songs for this movie, and to learn of the movie’s rapturous reception at the New York film festival in an unfinished form. But he would not live to see the final film.
In my review of The Little Mermaid I called it “A Broadway musical in ink and paint” and I really, really should have held off on using that description because it fits Beauty and the Beast so much better. Ashman actually held auditions on Broadway itself and the resulting cast is pretty much wall to wall Broadway veterans. Also, the song-to-dialogue ratio in this movie is even more heavily skewed towards the songs which take up around twenty five minutes of the running time.
Richard Purdum, the original director, left once Ashman and Menken were brought on board as it was clear that Disney were going to make a very different movie from what he had originally intended.
Replacing him were two young newcomers named Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale, whose previous experience prior to helming this multi-million dollar animated feature was…an animated short for the Disney Land attraction Cranium Command. I’m not joking. Well, actually, their lack of experience was part of the reason they were hired. Eisner and Katzenberg simply wanted someone to ride herd on the animators who in turn could be easily ridden by Eisner and Katzenberg.
After Purdum’s departure, they were looking for directors who would be under no illusions as to who was in charge. In fact, at the beginning Wise and Trousdale were referred to as “Acting Directors”, which Trousdale would later describe as “acting like a director in the hope that direction would happen.” But as it turned out, Kirk and Trousdale rose to the challenge and proved themselves to be very competent, prompting Katzenberg to promote them to “directors”.
The generation of young animators that had come on board around the time of The Fox and the Hound had now fully matured into probably the most accomplished animation team in the world. This would be the last film that they would all work together on, as from then on the studio would work on two movies simultaneously with the animation team being split in two. Many of the people who worked on this film consider it to be the crowning achievement of the renaissance, the true pinnacle. Are they right?
Well, let’s see if this thing can win me over.