17 of 31 Fantasy Films in 31 Days: Beauty and the Beast (1991) - Brainy, bookish Belle doesn’t feel like she belongs in her small French village. When her hapless father incites the ire of a prince who was transformed into a monster by an enchantress, she makes a deal with the Beast: she will be his prisoner so long as her father goes free. And while the Beast has a terrible temper, the two work past their rocky first encounter and come to care for one another. Will Belle’s love be able to break the spell before the last rose petal falls?
It’s my favourite fairy tale of ALL the fairy tales, so of course I’m biased: but this story just means so damn much to me. I’ve always felt a connection with Belle, an outsider more comfortable with her nose in a book and her head in the clouds. In fact, it’s the outsider commentary that makes this film so poignant: Howard Ashman, who helped pen the film’s incredible songs, was a gay man dying of AIDS when this film was being completed, and he meant for Gaston to represent the uncaring and judgmental society he faced daily while Belle and the Beast both embodied the perpetual outsider attacked at all sides. And then there’s the beautiful animation and a great cast of supporting characters; Jerry Orbach will always have a large piece of my heart thanks to his work as Lumiere. One of Disney’s best outings, and one of the best takes on the classic fairy tale.