Mrs. Potts: Tale as old as time, true as it can be.
From the moment the film opens on a spectacular view of a majestic castle through a forest filled with bustling foliage and sparkling waterfalls, the wave of love I felt for BEAUTY AND THE BEAST back in 1991, came rushing back over me when I saw it’s restored 3D rerelease on the big screen. Sure, the rerelease can be seen as nothing more than a gimmick to get more money out of already tapped out filmgoers. Disney doesn’t have to spend that much to make it happen so the returns will be plentiful. Sure, you can see it through this jaded filter if you like, but I choose to see it as an opportunity. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is a wonderful film, plain and simple. Having it back in theaters, having it brought to new heights with it’s 3D conversion, is a gift, a delightful and infectious gift.
We are certainly all familiar with the story of the spiteful, selfish prince who refuses kindness to an elderly vagrant and is placed under her spell when she reveals herself to be a beautiful woman. He is physically transformed on the outside into the beast of a man he is on the inside. Meanwhile, his castle becomes an enchanted prison that finds its inhabitants changed into household items, like clocks and candlestick holders. When a brave, young girl named Belle trades her freedom for that of her father’s, and agrees to become the Beast’s prisoner in lieu of her dad (it’s a long story!), the possibility of breaking the spell becomes a reality. The Beast must find true love before it’s too late and Belle might be his last chance. And, to top it all off, all of this grandeur is told in highly enjoyable song and dance.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is a classic love story and directors, Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, tell it with very little placating, which Disney is all too easily prone to these days. The theatrics of the enchanted castle provide plenty of lighter fodder to alleviate the mood but there is still ample room leftover for a tender exchange of love between one very independent woman and one very tortured man. Belle (voiced by Paige O’Hara) is one of the most intelligent and strong heroines in Disney history, without forsaking any of her innocent romanticism, and the Beast’s (Robby Benson) inner struggle is an antagonist unlike most found in the Disney lexicon. As spectacular as the animation is and as boisterous as every musical number is, what I find most moving and most memorable about BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is the way it captures the delicate dance that led these two guarded souls to the love of their lives.