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Blu-ray Review: Beauty and The Beast 25th Anniversary Edition
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Beauty and The Beast header

Beauty and the Beast
25th Anniversary Edition
Blu-ray Combo Pack
Directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise
Music by Alan Menken
Cast: Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, Richard White, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers, Angela Lansbury, Bradley Michael Pierce, Rex Everhart, Jesse Corti, Hal Smith, Jo Anne Worley
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios
Release Date: September 20, 2016

Disney’s 1991 animated feature Beauty and the Beast, which is based on the classic French fairy tale of the same name, sees an intelligent young woman named Belle who’s grown tired of her predictable small-town life. She wants to read and learn, and yearns for adventure, which makes her an oddity amongst her fellow villagers, who think a beautiful girl like her should just settle down and have a family. But she’s not interested in that. She repeatedly rejects the proposals from the town’s hunk Gaston, a vain and musclebound airhead who swears he won’t relent until Belle agrees to marry him.

Belle eventually ends up at the castle of a prince who’s been magically transformed into a beast. In an effort to save her father, the young girl abandons her dreams of adventure and agrees to remain indefinitely at the Beast’s home, which is staffed by enchanted inanimate objects. (These were his servants who were also cursed.) Unbeknownst to Belle, there’s something that can reverse the spell placed on the Beast, but if it doesn’t happen in time, the irritable prince will remain forever in his monstrous form. In the meantime, Belle’s persistent suitor Gaston will do anything to have her, even if it means harming those she cares about.

Beauty and the Beast helped usher the Disney Renaissance, an era which saw hit after hit for the studio with their animated feature-length musicals. The film went on to earn five Academy Award nominations, including for Best Picture, and has the distinction of being the first animated film ever to be nominated in that category (a status that remained until 2010). Not surprisingly, composer Alan Menken won Best Original Score, and he and lyricist Howard Ashman won for Best Original Song for the title track (performed by Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts in the film, and as a duet by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson for the end credits).

Now, the movie is celebrating its silver anniversary, and with it comes a new 25th Anniversary Edition on DVD, Blu-ray, and Digital HD as part of The Walt Disney Signature Collection. The new Blu-ray edition contains three versions of the film — the original theatrical film; an extended edition that has the “Human Again” song sequence; and an all-new sing-along version where you can skip right to the songs — while the Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere releases those three plus the work-in-progress version of the film. Each edition also includes all-new bonus features, with the digital release also containing five hours of extras that came with previous home video releases. The Blu-ray Edition is actually a “combo pack” that has the Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD discs.

Of all the Disney animated musicals of the era, Beauty and the Beast is hands-down my favorite, with Belle the Disney Princess I adore the most. She’s not only beautiful (with brown hair and brown eyes like me!!!), but she’s smart and articulate, and as she goes on to show, she has a kind heart and her perception of people is determined by who they are on the inside. Unlike some other Disney princesses, her purpose in life isn’t to snag a husband; she’d rather be ostracized and alone than be tied to a man she can neither respect nor cherish. She values people for what’s in their heart and mind, not by their appearance.

As a film, Beauty and the Beast is brilliant and is top-notch on every level, and is deserved of its Best Picture nomination against heavies like JFK and The Silence of the Lambs (it lost to the latter). The music most definitely is a stand-out here, and is likely the reason why this movie is one of the most memorable of the 1990s, if not of all time, and it tale speaks to audiences of all ages.

I’m quite nostalgic for this film, having seen it upon its original theatrical release, and then owning every single home video release of it since… and seeing the Broadway musical four times — once with Debbie Gibson as Belle — and watching the stage show numerous stages at Disney World, and having a Belle-themed birthday party for a milestone age that was not my teens or even my twenties (and I’ll leave it at that), and now that I look my Instagram profile pic I see it’s of the Belle-themed cake from that milestone birthday celebrated at Disney World. (I won’t even mention how many Beauty and the Beast snowglobes I own, and how many boxes of sugary cereal I once bought so I could send the box tops away in exchange for some small plastic B&TB waterglobes — yes, I was an adult at the time.) All that to say, I really love the theatrical version the best. But, having seen the Broadway several times, I have become accustomed to having the “Human Again” sequence included, so I enjoyed that one as well. As for the sing-along version, my life has been the sing-along version, but at my age, perhaps I should take it down a notch and save this one for the kids. (It’s still fun though!)

When a movie is this good and has such a rich history, going through the Bonus Features is always fun. Disney’s animation studio has some musical giants in its pantheon, so the “Menken & Friends: 25 Years of Musical Inspiration” featurette is a real treat. Here, Alan Menken, who did B&TB and Disney’s Aladdin, geeks out over music with various other composers who’ve worked on Disney films, including the team behind Frozen, as well as Hamilton superstar Lin-Manuel Miranda, who worked on Disney’s upcoming animated feature Moana. Another featurette includes some history on how Walt Disney had previously tried to adapt the classic fairy tale for his animation studio, while the “Always Belle” extra gives Paige O’Hara, the Broadway actress who voiced and sang Belle’s parts, a much deserved spotlight. Details in the “Fun Facts” portion are appreciated, and are delivered in that hyper Disney Channel style, so be ready to be psyched up (I sometimes find this style annoying, but then I remember how excited I get to visit Disney World and Disneyland, and then I get totally caught up in the hype). In my favorite featurette, which is much too short (under four minutes), “The Recording Sessions,” we see the film’s voice cast in the recording booth and how their mannerisms influenced the animation of their on-screen counterparts. This 25th anniversary edition also contains a sneak peek at Disney’s upcoming live-action retelling of Beauty and the Beast, starring Harry Potter‘s Emma Watson as Belle.

Bonus Features

See below for the official details for the Bonus Features of the 25th Anniversary release.

BLU-RAY, DIGITAL HD* & DISNEY MOVIES ANYWHERE:

  • Menken & Friends: 25 Years of Musical Inspiration – Get a front-row seat for an intimate discussion between legendary music composers from classic and future Disney films, including Alan Menken (“Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin”), Stephen Schwartz (“The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Pocahontas”), Kristen Anderson-Lopez (“Frozen,” Disney’s upcoming “Gigantic”), Robert Lopez (“Frozen,” Disney’s upcoming “Gigantic”) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (Disney’s upcoming “Moana”). Discover how the composers are personally connected, how they first experienced “Beauty and the Beast” and how they find inspiration for their own films. And watch as they pay tribute to the film’s award-winning music score and the man who has inspired them all—Alan Menken.
  • #1074: Walt, Fairy Tales & Beauty and the Beast – Long before “Beauty and the Beast” became the instant classic we know and love, Walt Disney made two attempts—between the 1930s and 1950s—to adapt the famous fairy tale into an animated film. Discover what Walt and his team was dreaming up through Walt’s actual voice recordings, archived artwork, story notes, and learn why the project was sidelined for decades.
  • Always Belle – The original voice of Belle, Paige O’Hara, reminisces about earning the role of the beautiful bookworm in “Beauty and the Beast” and recalls how the iconic character changed her life and continues to inspire fans both young and old.
  • The Recording Sessions – Go in the recording booth with the cast of Beauty and the Beast and see what went into adding voices to the characters and the lines we know and love.
  • 25 Fun Facts About Beauty and the Beast – Disney Channel’s Gus Kamp and Kayla Maisonet host this entertaining countdown featuring little-known fun facts, anecdotes and hidden Easter Eggs (references to Disney animated films and characters) from one of the most cherished animated films of all time.
  • “Beauty and The Beast” Sneak Peek – An exciting first look into the live-action re-telling of “Beauty and the Beast,” which refashions the classic characters from the tale as old as time for a contemporary audience, staying true to the original music while updating the score with several new songs.

DIGITAL HD* & DISNEY MOVIES ANYWHERE:

  • *Classic Bonus Features – These offerings from prior home entertainment releases include over five hours of bonus material, such as an alternate version of “Be Our Guest” and the “Beauty and the Beast” music video performed by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson, and deleted scenes.
    *Bonus features may vary by retailer.

Trailer

Beauty and the Beast 25th Anniversary Edition


It is with deepest pride and greatest pleasure that we announce the release of Beauty and the Beast 25th Anniversary Edition.

Blu-ray Box Art

Beauty and the Beast 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Edition cover art

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