When I first saw this movie, it was well-after its release in theaters and on DVD, when I finally stumbled upon renting it at the public library. During the week I rented it, I must have watched it a dozen times. It felt like a breath of fresh air after over a decade of less-than-amazing animated features (in other words, since the Renaissance ended). I love the animation, the jazz-inspired score, the characters, everything!!
I only avoided watching it for so long because I’d been so disappointed in Disney films in the past few years before its release (excluding Pixar), and also because of the drama centering around the “first black Disney princess” ordeal. Oi vey… Tiana is tied for being my second-favorite Disney princess, and it has nothing to do with her being a milestone for black princess representation!! She’s hardworking, smart, sassy, but also has weaknesses (namely blindness toward anything outside her goals), and is an overall likable character. See, unlike SOME people on the internet, I actually admire ALL of my Disney girls for being WHO THEY ARE, AND NOT FOR WHAT “COLOR” THEY REPRESENT. But I digress….
The story might be a bit complex for some kids to digest, but the messages are incredibly deep and wonderful. You can want everything in the world, but what truly makes you happy is finding what you NEED. And though some people are annoyed by it, I can see why so many fans adore Charlotte LeBouff: simply because she’s everything WE DID NOT EXPECT. Even if she wasn’t going to turn out racist, we expected her to be spoiled rotten, to be tactless to Tiana, or do something along those lines. Instead, despite her seemingly shallow personality, she actually does so many wonderful things that make her relationship with Tiana all the more sweeter. Me personally, I just found her to be hilarious; the sweet moments were a bonus. ^^“
The love story is also something to admire, because both characters learn from another and gain strengths because of it (similar to Beauty and the Beast, no? :P) The sidekicks are never too annoying, which admittedly, can happen in some Disney films, just saying, and the villain is remarkably fun to watch. Overall, it’s a lovely film to watch, and is very reminiscent to the "classic” period of the 90’s films we all know and love (namely Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast). <3
[Note: LAST DAY. FINALLY. Only 4 months late… =_=“ A bit of long commentary ahead; enjoy!!]
Beauty and the Beast (1991). Why? Because it is perfection. The animation is perfect, the story is perfect, the romance is perfect, the voice-acting is perfect, the music is perfect, the character development is perfect, EVERYTHING IN THIS MOVIE IS PERFECTION.
Okay, okay, there’s more to it than just "perfection” (and that is just an opinion, I know…). First of all, you have Belle, one of the best Disney role-models for girls. Why? Because she’s smart, opinionated, loyal, independent, not shallow, a bookworm, and falls in love with someone NOT based on their looks. This may sound like a typical argument, but it’s true!! Even Tiana falls in love with Naveen when they were BOTH frogs (and adorable little amphibians, might I add); Belle literally is trapped in a castle with a raging, terrifying, hairy beast. And yet, slowly, over months together, they begin to fall in love.
A lot of people who like to nitpick classics like this (don’t they always?) point out that Belle’s relationship with the Beast is considered “abusive” and also unrealistic because he supposedly changes in the end. First of all, when the Beast does lose his temper at Belle, were they a couple yet? NO. Secondly, to put in some perspective, Prince Adam aka “the Beast” has grown up selfish and spoiled all his life and wasn’t taught that yelling and throwing things is wrong, so while in his Beast form, his temper tantrums tend to go…. erm, overboard. Third and most importantly, Belle did NOT put up with that! Terrified at first, she ran away, breaking the promise she sacrificed her life and losing her father for. Then, she is attacked by wolves, and the Beast comes to her rescue. When he finally fights them off, he is badly injured and falls into a faint, leaving Belle the perfect opportunity to flee…. and yet she doesn’t. Empathy and gratitude kicks in and she takes him back to the castle, where he loses his temper again as she tried to clean his wounds. Now prepared for his attitude, she yells right back at him, and puts him in his place: “Well, you should learn to control your temper!” See, an abusive relationship would mean the Beast would demean and break Belle’s character until she kept dealing with his nonsense forever; but no, she straightens him out! Probably being the first in his entire life to do so…
Aside from Belle’s awesomeness, you also have the other guy in the spectrum: Gaston. I’ve read some arguments online that Gaston is actually the most evil or at least the scariest of Disney villains, simply by how REAL he is. Admittedly, I can see those points, though I personally find Frollo to be much more realistic and terrifying…. Which brings about another interesting point: WHY THE FLIP DOES GASTON HAS A FANBASE ON TUMBLR??? Seriously, ladies, if you have a thrill for a bad guys, that’s fine, knock yourself out, but why go after someone who is so annoyingly shallow?! That’s probably why I’d name him in the Top 5 of Disney villains: for how utterly shallow he is, and yet will do anything to get what he wants. And that’s also why I positively hate his guts, with a fiery passion. While other Disney villains either scared me as a kid (like Maleficent), or I find them fascinating studies (like Frollo), Gaston is just a bully. A cocky, womanizing, sexist, creepy, arrogant jerk of a bully!! (Again, HOW is that hot???) But I guess that’s what makes him so terrifying for a lot of people: he’s the good-looking “hero” everyone admires and follows, he’s the one who doesn’t back off when a woman says “No,” he has a freakish power over the masses by his passion and reputation, and he sees the object of his desire (Belle) as nothing more than a pretty trinket that is being hidden from him by one obstacle: the Beast. Gaston is everything a woman fears, and everything a man hopes he may never become. He’s the real “beast” in the movie.
And lastly, you have the Beast himself, aka Prince Adam (yes, people, that IS his name; confirmed by the Broadway show, if not necessarily by the animators). Another common nitpick is why did he change into a prince at the end, or rather “why does he look so weird?” The animators said that they could have slapped an Eric-like prince on the screen, but it wouldn’t matter how objectively handsome he is: we fell in love with the BEAST, not with his human counterpart. And honestly, I always saw his transformation as symbolic. It’s not a “oh, look he’s hot now, you can have him back!” situation; it’s a metaphor of how Belle’s love had transformed the raging, scary Beast into a softer, kinder man. Though the Beast had already gone through this “transformation” earlier, all that was needed was the confirmation of Belle’s love for him to set him free. And honest to gods, THAT “death” scene gets the tears rolling for me. It just rips me apart: the quiet, emotional dialogue they have, the Beast’s dying breathless voice, the way Belle tenderly touches him and holds his paw against her cheek…. JESUS, just thinking about it gets me choked up!! And I think that is what I love most about this movie: you BELIEVE in the story, you BELIEVE in the romance, you BELIEVE in the emotions, the pain, the joy, the wonder, the fear, and everything else these characters go through. As much as I adore all of Disney’s films, few make you truly believe and connect so deeply with the characters as much as Beauty and the Beast does.
To wrap up, I adore this film above all others, and honestly, can you blame me? It is still considered one of Disney’s greatest achievements (my parents also like to make a point that there can never be another film as beautiful and great as this one), and was even nominated for an Academy Award for Best Film! That may not seem shocking now, with our Animated Film department, but at the time, 1) that section did not exist in the Oscars, and 2) it was the VERY FIRST ANIMATED FILM TO BE NOMINATED FOR THE SPOT in history. It’s a beautiful film, with great music composed by Alan Menken, and was the last of Howard Ashman’s lyrical work (he died just before the film was released), who was known to “give a mermaid her voice and a Beast his soul.” I could watch this film over and over and never tire of it. Truly a masterpiece that can never be touched. :) <3