Thursday, March 16, 2017

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Disney's Academy Award nominated film, Beauty in the Beast tells the tale of a selfish prince and bookworm who form a relationship after the beastly prince (Robby Benson) captures Belle (Paige O'Hara). After a quick prologue on the background on how the prince was cursed to look like a beast, we are introduced to Belle who proclaims her love of books and her boredom with the provincial town she lives in. Bell is courted by a rude hunter Gaston (Richard White) who depends on his companion Lefou (Jesse Corti) for periodic confidence boosts. Belle's father Maurice (Rex Everhart) is an inventor who is excited to premiere his new woodchopping device at the festival but on his way, he becomes lost and stumbles into a dark wood where wolves attack him. Fleeing the wolves, he pushes into an enchanted caster where at first, he is a welcome guest by the enchanted objects until the Beast shows up angry and imprisons him.

Meanwhile, Belle fends off a marriage proposal from Gaston and worries for her father when his horse Phillipe returns without him. Concerned, Belle sets out on Phillipe's back to find her father leading her back to the castle. She comes inside and is spotted by Lumiere (Jerry Orbach) and Cogsworth (David Ogden Stiers), a candlestick and a clock. The two items follow her as she discovers her father locked up and is accosted by the Beast. Seeing that her father is sick, she trades places with him and is imprisoned herself. Maurice flees the enchanted castle and rushes back to the pub where he tries to explain the situation to an incredulous Gaston and skeptical townspeople who throw him out. 

Lumiere and Mrs. Potts (Angela Lansbury), a teapot, with her son Chip, a teacup, escort Belle out of her cell into a room where a dresser comes alive and welcomes her to her new enclosure. The Beast is awkward but yet he attempts to charm her despite his hot temper. The candlestick and his lover the duster encourage the Beast to be romantic but he has become inexperienced at social interaction. Slowly, their affection for each other grows especially after the Beast shows her his library. As they grow fonder, the Beast proposes throwing a ball and the two dance to music and find each other falling in love. Belle still wishes to be free and once she sees her father trapped in an asylum through a magic mirror, the Beast frees her to go.

Belle returns to the village, frees her father and brings him home, but Gaston demands Maurice be imprisoned for his absurd behavior. Belle uses the magic mirror to show the villagers the Beast which drives them into an angry mob. Led by Gaston, they lock up Belle and her father and charge towards the Beast's castle carrying torches with the intent to kill. The Beast has grown depressed since Belle left and believes that she has abandoned him when the mob arrives. He has given up but the household items have not. They defend themselves in a hilarious battle but Gaston makes it through and attacks the beast on the tower. Belle escapes with the help of Chip and Maurice's inventions and rushes back to the castle.

Gaston and the beast fight, probably my favorite part and the Beast finally beats Gaston though he spares him when he sees Belle. As he rushes to his love, Gaston stabs him in the back then slips backward to fall to his death. Belle reunites with the Beast but it is too late as the Beast is injured and dies. As Belle cries over his body and proclaims her love, the spell is reversed and the Beast and all the items return to human form. The cartoon is a beautiful combination of artwork and music and a classic film that is wonderful to revisit.

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