Beauty and the Beast: Special Limited Edition (1991)

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Released 21-Oct-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Animation Main Menu Introduction-Animated Intro
Menu Animation & Audio-Themed
THX Trailer
Seamless Branching-Special Edition; Original Theatrical Release
Multiple Angles-Work-In-Progress Edition
Introduction-to Work In Progress
Game-Break The Spell; Maurice's Invention Workship
Audio Commentary-Special Edition
Featurette-Origins Of Beauty And The Beast; Development (2)
Featurette-Story (4); Music (4)
Featurette-Characters (3); Production Design (3)
Featurette-Animation (4); Tricks Of The Trade (2)
Featurette-Release And Reaction (8); The Broadway Musical (3)
Featurette-The Special Edition
Featurette-Disney's Animation Magic (7)
Game-Chip's Musical Challenge; Personality Profile Game
Featurette-Making Of-Several
Featurette-The Story Behind The Story (8)
Music Video-Beauty And The Beast-Jump 5; Celine Dion & Peabo Bryson
Gallery-The West Wing
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1991
Running Time 87:28 (Case: 91)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (48:36)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Gary Trousdale
Kirk Wise
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Paige O'Hara
Robby Benson
Richard White
Jerry Orbach
David Ogden Stiers
Angela Lansbury
Bradley Pierce
Rex Everhart
Jesse Corti
Hal Smith
Jo Anne Worley
Mary Kay Bergman
Brian Cummings
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $34.95 Music Alan Menken


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish
Swedish
Norwegian
Danish
Finnish
English Song Lyrics
Spanish Titling
Spanish Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Unlike normal Disney fairy tales which traditionally start with a storybook opening, Beauty and the Beast instead opens with a narration to several stylised, stained-glass motifs which detail the initial story behind the Beast and his enchanted castle:

“Once upon a time, in a far away land, a young prince lived in a shining castle. Although he had everything his heart desired, the prince was spoiled, selfish and unkind. But then, one winter’s night, an old beggar woman came to the castle and offered him a single rose in return for shelter from the bitter cold. Repulsed by her haggard appearance, the prince sneered at the gift and turned the old woman away. But she warned him not to be deceived by appearances, for beauty is found within. And when he dismissed her again, the old woman’s ugliness melted away to reveal a beautiful enchantress. The prince tried to apologize, but it was too late, for she had seen that there was no love in his heart. And as punishment, she transformed him into a hideous beast and placed a powerful spell on the castle and all who lived there. Ashamed of his monstrous form the beast concealed himself inside his castle with a magic mirror as his only window to the outside world.
The rose she had offered was a truly enchanted rose, which would bloom until his 21st year. If he could learn to love another and earn her love in return by the time the last petal fell, then the spell would be broken. If not, he would be doomed to remain a beast for all time. As the years passed he fell into despair and lost all hope, for who could ever learn to love a beast?”

    Beauty and the Beast is not your typical fairytale love story. Rather, it is a substantially more complex story that deals with issues of prejudice, xenophobia and equality. To some extent this is one of the main reasons for its phenomenal success over the years and why it truly deserves the title “story as old as time”. It not only manages to appeal to children, effectively teaching them some important life morals, but it also manages to touch a deeper level with adults, highlighting issues that as a society we would prefer to pretend do not exist. The main characters portrayed here of Belle (Paige O'Hara), the Beast (Robby Benson) and Gaston (Richard White) are quite complex when compared to the fairytale characters one typically encounters; and in many respects they are even the polar opposites. Belle for instance, is immediately distinguished from the other villagers as being “quite odd” due to her interest in reading and adventure. Likewise as the story unfolds, Gaston progressively shifts from being the epitome of man to becoming the monster as the Beast slowly becomes more human.

    The relationships that form between the various characters are also deep and complex, requiring time and effort as they do in real life as opposed to the traditional Prince falls in love with the Princess, simply because the parents think it’s a good idea. In Beauty and the Beast, this normal, fairytale matchmaking is dispensed with very quickly when Belle rejects the advances by Gaston early on the film, thus seeding the initial feelings of rejection that ultimately will turn into jealousy and hatred. Then, by a certain twist of fate, Belle ends up being imprisoned in the enchanted castle where she meets the Beast; a character with a “tortured soul” who has almost entirely given up hope of ever returning to normal. The relationship between Belle and the Beast takes a long time to develop and involves many twists and turns. As in real life, Belle and the Beast have a tendency to take their relationship for granted and it is only through loss, that in the end they truly realise how much the other meant to them. Of course it is still a fairytale and it does have the fairytale ending of “happily ever after”, but the path it takes to get there is truly unique.

    This presentation is also perfectly suitable for children and several amusing characters are available to provide comic relief throughout the feature. These include such wonderful characters as Lumiere (Jerry Orbach) the French candlestick, Cogsworth (David Ogden Stiers) the pompous clock, Mrs. Potts (Angela Lansbury) the very personable teapot and Chip (Bradley Pierce) the little boy as a teacup. In addition there are several others including Belle's father Maurice (Rex Everhart), her horse Philippe (Hal Smith) and the ever-lovable ottoman dog (Frank Welker). These are wonderful characters that never overly distract from the main story, as so many useless animated characters have a tendency to do in other animated features.

    In closing, this adaptation of the ageless story of Beauty and the Beast is a magnificent effort, by a magnificent team, and it definitely deserves the fine reputation it has as one of the best animated films of all time. The presentation on DVD is also amongst the very best available and is certainly worth adding to any collection, especially considering that after a short period we won’t be seeing it again for another decade! Disney why do you do this?

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video presentation of this feature is absolutely superb and is one of the best looking images I have ever seen; it certainly is the best animated feature image I have ever seen on DVD. It is only let down, very slightly, by some minor compression artefacts in the form of Gibbs Effect which should never have been let through the Disney Platinum mastering process.

    The main feature is presented at an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 and with the 16x9 enhancement, it looks nothing short of gorgeous. This is very close to the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, having being slightly framed in the overscan borders for this release.

    The image is crystal clear, razor sharp and incredibly detailed. There is not the slightest hint of any noise whatsoever; no low level noise, no chroma noise and not the slightest hint of any grain. The black levels are absolutely perfect, the shadow detail is exemplary and the white levels are excellent. And the colours...the colours are to die for, ranging from warm autumn tones through to cold winter blues and finally vibrant spring colours with everything in between.

    The main feature does have some very minor Gibbs Effect present almost throughout. This is so slight that it is really only visible when you are either looking specifically for it, you are viewing it on a really large display or your DVD player struggles with the encoding rate present in this transfer. The worst example is probably at 4:12 around the character of the mother with her children. It would appear from reports that the US R1 release is afflicted more so by this artefact due to the lack of seamless branching in their release. I also noticed that the video codec rate for this feature jumps erratically and wildly from as low as 2.5mbps right up to 9.8-10mbps and back again several times a second. I’ve often seen cases where the video rate increases when it needs to on demand but I have never seen it jumping as wildly between the highs and lows as this one does. I suspect that an almost optimal compression system was used and it certainly worked well on this presentation. Finally, there was some very, very minor aliasing but it was really nothing to worry about (1:02 - very minor on roof/edges, 29:52 - wardrobe, and 64:50 - Maurice's clothes are some examples for completeness).

    Whilst I was watching this feature the first time with my daughter, I spotted a single, very minor black fleck but did not record the time marker. On subsequent viewings I could not spot a single film artefact and so conclude that if there are any, they are so minor that they can essentially be ignored. The Work In Progress Edition is another matter of course, where the nature of the material is such that you expect to see them.

    I extensively sampled the English subtitles and found them to be hyper accurate although the same cannot be said about the English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles which were very good except for some paraphrasing every now and then.

    This disc is an RSDL disc with the layer change occurring at 48:36. It is extremely well placed, being in the midst of a scene change. As the audio track is silent at that exact moment, and the screen is black, opening into a still frame shot, there is no interruption to either the audio or video. This is exceptionally well placed.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, whilst being crystal clear, seemed to lack body when compared to my memory of the original. I did some checking into other audio comments regarding this title in R1 and found some similar comments. I plan to do a back-to-back test of the audio against the laserdisc version and will update the review when that has been completed.

    I primarily listened to the Dolby Digital 5.1 track in English and found it to be superb, except for the lack of presence mentioned earlier. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo tracks for the Audio Commentary was likewise exceptionally clear and the placement of the various commentators from left to right made distinguishing between them much easier, especially when they decided to talk at once.

    The dialogue was perfectly clear and distinct at all times, even when the characters were whispering. The lip sync was very precise.

    What can I say about the music apart from the fact that I cannot get the tunes out of my head after listening to them all week? The award-winning music by Howard Ashman and Alan Menkin of ”The Little Mermaid” fame was absolutely brilliant. Howard and Alan brought a very distinct and coherent feel to the music of Beauty and the Beast, leveraging off their Broadway musical experience extensively to ensure that the music not only supported the story but more importantly helped to carry the story. In many cases the story was told through some of the songs rather than with dialogue. A lot of the success of Beauty and the Beast is as a direct result of the fabulous musical score and lyrics that were put together by Howard and Alan.

    The surround channels are primarily used to provide moments of extensive ambience and effects to both the action and the music. They are never used inappropriately, being neither over nor under-utilized. The subwoofer is also well integrated into the presentation, producing deep bass several times in just the right amounts.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Extras Overview

    This is an incredible collection of extras that took the better part of a week to get through and document. Some of the features such as the “Work In Progress” edition and the highly interactive game on Disc 2 are like no other feature ever included on a DVD before. Others such as the “Audio Commentary “ and the seamless branching for the “Special Edition” release are very good examples of how these types of extras should be implemented. I was also impressed with the animated picture galleries that gave a real impression of strolling down one of the massive gallery halls in the Louvre, stopping to look at a collection of paintings in each section. I should warn you that you need to make sure that you are comfortable and have plenty of time before embarking on this discovery of extras.

Main Menu

    Both discs incorporate a fully animated and narrated introduction which seamlessly leads into the actual main menu itself. The Disc 1 main menu is incorporated into the village scene where the main feature starts and uses an excellent, structured layout, similar to a good web site, supporting multiple menu navigation paths to the various features. The menu is also supported by gentle background music consistent with the feature. The Disc 2 main menu is incorporated into the main hall of the Beast’s castle, using the layout of the castle and its characters to partition the extensive set of extras present into almost manageable chunks. This menu is supported by an amusing collection of audio prompts, chosen at random, that entice the user to make a choice.

Disc One:

“Once upon a time, there was a little town. A quiet village, where everyday was like the day before, until today.
Be our guest to a world of enchantment.”

    Unless otherwise noted , the menus, extras and features of disc one are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and are 16x9 enhanced. In addition, unless noted otherwise, all the extras and menus are supported by a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround sound audio track.

Scene Selections

    The twenty two, well-placed chapter stops are presented in the context of a story book with four non-animated, illustrative frames from the relevant chapter segments on each page.

Choose your Edition

Special Edition

    Duration 87:28. This special edition of Beauty and the Beast re-introduces one of the musical segments, “Human Again”, that was deleted from the original due to continuity issues and time constraints. It was fully animated and restored for the large screen IMAX release earlier this year and is available on this DVD as a seamless branch from the theatrical release. Although opinions vary about the value of the “Human Again” addition, I prefer it as it justifies the development of the relationship between Belle and the Beast. Then again, does it really matter? Regardless of which version you prefer, both are present in their entirety on this DVD.

Original Theatrical Edition

    Duration 80:55. This is the original theatrical release of Beauty and the Beast fully restored and looking better than I think it has ever looked for home release.

Work In Progress Edition

    Duration 80:55. This very special edition of Beauty and the Beast, originally screened in October 1991 at the New York Film Festival and later released on a limited edition LD, provides a rare glimpse into the development of a complex animated feature. This was and still is a very rare thing to do, especially for Disney Studios, to publicly display and subsequently release a work that is still in development with various segments in various states of completion or in many cases incompletion. This is a truly magical glimpse inside the development and production of the story and we are very lucky and privileged to have it included in its entirety on this release. If Disney studios can do something like this for the rumoured release of ”The Cobbler and the Thief”, preserving the work in its original, albeit incomplete form, then I will be very pleased indeed.

    Anybody interested in animation, in particular the various stages and development steps in taking animation from the storyboard, through rough sketches, cleanup animation and finally full colour will find this version invaluable. Examples of the various development stages can be found at:

    I am always astounded by just how much emotion and depth can be portrayed using such simple sketches. For instance, take a look at 57:45. Being very rough animation in several places it is naturally packed full of standard film-to-video artefacts such as telecine wobble and contains uncountable instances of film artefacts such as marks, scratches, hairs and flecks. This is to be expected considering the nature of the material; somewhat unexpected, though, were some MPEG compression artefacts such as Gibbs Effect at 4:12 for instance. I guess the compression had to be applied somewhere and this version was it. As Don Hahn commented; the production team "showed them “the hidden strings, the trapdoors of our profession”, a move that was tremendously received to a “standing ovation”".

Bonus Material:

Introduction to Work In Progress

    Don Hahn (Producer) introduces us to this very, very special edition of Beauty and the Beast that was originally screened in October 1991 at the New York Film Festival and later released on a limited edition LD.

Audio Commentary (Special Edition Only)

    Audio commentary provided by Don Hahn (Producer), Kirk Wise (Producer), Gary Trousdale (Director), Alan Menken (Composer). This is one of those highly enjoyable, entertaining and educational audio commentaries with real substance as opposed to the light fluff you find in some. I think I laughed harder and more often listening to this group describing some of the situations they ended up in whilst producing Beauty and the Beast than I did from the main feature. Aside from an absolute mountain of trivia regarding the development and production of the feature that you can garner from this commentary there are also numerous sections of great amusement, such as when they are describing some of the alternative names for Mrs. Potts – names such as Mrs. Darjeeling, or Mrs. Chamomile, or Mrs. Orange Pekoe and Mrs. Rosehip. Even better, though, was the comment regarding the sneaky bearskin rug which can be found at 28:50-29:30; this was one of those moments that needed rewinding to experience again. There were also numerous references to small details that have been the subject of many rumours; for instance the minor touch-ups that were necessary after re-introducing the “Human Again” segment such as fixing the mirror (59:03 Special Edition, 53:45 Original & WIP Edition), the minor appearance of the abandoned Music Box character (71:28 Special Edition) and of course the skulls that appear in Gaston’s eyes as he falls into the ravine (the closest framed shot at 76:22 Special Edition, 71:03 Original & WIP Edition) and finally the admission that the final dancing scene with Belle and the transformed Prince was shamelessly and literally stolen from ”Sleeping Beauty” and cleaned-up with Belle and the Prince animated in!

    One very clear aspect that comes out of this commentary and in fact from many of the extras on Disc 2 is how much of a team this production crew was, how much being a part of Beauty and the Beast meant to them and how much fun they had doing it. In the end, the result was fantastic.

Sing-Along Track

    This is less an extra and more a caption option, similar to the subtitles. Whenever a musical number is playing and this feature is activated, the words for the music appear as subtitles at the bottom of the screen.

Break The Spell Game

    Presented at 1.33:1, non 16x9 enhanced. This plays the introduction to Maurice’s Invention Workshop Game.

“Once upon a time an enchantress placed a powerful spell over a spoilt prince and all who lived in his castle. The greatest hope of breaking the spell came when a young woman named Belle stumbled upon the castle and was imprisoned by the beast. But she was soon released and raced home to help her father. All she loved, though, was left behind in the castle. But there was hope indeed, for Belle travelled home with a stowaway that day, Chip. Help Chip now in Maurice’s workshop and you will begin a journey that continues on disc two which can break the spell and make Chip and his friends human again.”

    Surprisingly though, after playing the introduction it then returns to the Bonus menu instead of continuing into the actual game. Odd.
Maurice’s Invention Workshop Game

    Presented at 1.33:1, non 16x9 enhanced. This plays the above introduction and then continues into a very simple question—answer game where the goal is to help Chip complete Maurice’s invention, so he can get back to the castle before he gets into big trouble with his mum. If you answer all the questions correctly, not only will you complete the machine to get Chip back home, you will also be given a special access code that enables you to enter the West Wing on Disc 2. One small word of advice here, the character Cogsworth is represented as a cog -- of course. (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Puzzle solution: Pot, Cup, Candelabra, Cup, Cog, Cup, Candelabra, Cog, Cup.

Disc Two:

“Hidden deep within the forest is an enchanted castle whose residents are under a powerful spell and ruled by a hideous beast. The castle is immense, with many wings and countless rooms, some of them forbidden. Those brave enough to explore the castle would be wise to seek the assistance of our resident hosts. Cogsworth and Lumiere present a variety of stimulating delights for the discerning visitor; while Mrs. Potts offers engaging treats perfect for the whole family, and Chip reveals fun and games for the young and the young at heart. Or, if you prefer to view a complete list of all the offerings within the castle, turn to the Magic Mirror. Whichever journey you choose, you’re most certain to be enchanted.”

    Unless otherwise noted , the menus, extras and features of disc two are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and are not 16x9 enhanced. In addition, unless noted otherwise, all the extras and menus are supported by a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround sound audio track.

    Disc two provides access to a mountain of extras that have been broken up into three major sections. Cogsworth and Lumiere will take you deep into the library where you can access the vast majority of the extras and bonuses related to the feature; Chip will happily take you into the kitchen for some fun and games and extras designed specifically for children; and finally Mrs. Potts invites you relax in front of the fireplace in the Den whilst you browse from the interesting stories she has to provide. Or for the impatient amongst you, you can also access the Magic Mirror which provides quick access to any section except the West Wing, which can only be reached via the Red Rose. You're not going to give up just because it didn’t work the first time are you?

Cogsworth and Lumiere (Library)

Origins of Beauty and the Beast

    Duration 1:28. A short history of the origin of the story of Beauty and the Beast which has its roots in legends from Greece, India, Africa, France and Italy. The more popular, modern version was written by a French expatriate in 1756. It is considered one of the more complex fairy tales, by nature of the non-obvious relationship that ultimately forms between Belle and the Beast.

Development
Bringing The Story To The Screen

    Duration 2:15. After the success of Snow White, Walt Disney began actively pursuing further potential stories that were suitable for animating. Walt first attempted to develop a storyline for the story of Beauty and the Beast in the 1930s and then again later in the 1950s before finally abandoning it. It was re-discovered by Roy E. Disney in the late 1980s after production of the Little Mermaid and was finally revived and committed as Disney Studios next animated adventure.

Early Presentation Reel

    Duration 2:51. This introduces and then presents the first, early promotional reel that was created to convey to both internal and external groups the story that was being planned for Beauty and the Beast. Thankfully this early concept was rejected and the final result ended up being vastly different and significantly improved, even though some of the elements remained.

Story
Finding The Story

    Duration 2:41. It took a massive team, consisting of Don Hahn (Producer), Howard Ashman and Alan Menkin (Composers from Little Mermaid), Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale (Directors) and a veritable army of story writers including Brenda Chapman (Story), Roger Allers (Head of Story), Chris Sanders (Story), Linda Woolverton (Screenwriter – an unusual move for an animated title) and finally a old veteran of Disney, Joe Grant of Snow White, Dumbo & Pinocchio fame to bring together the story of Beauty and the Beast as we see it today.

Alternate Version: “Be Our Guest”

    Duration 4:55. The original version of “Be Our Guest” was actually sung to Maurice when he first encountered the enchanted castle. It was later modified, at the recommendation of Bruce Whiteside (Story Writer) who thought the segment would work better with Belle. This is that original version which is of course very rough early animation with the expected artefacts. This segment looked and sounded superb, but the observations and recommendations were absolutely spot-on – it was meant for Belle more so than Maurice.

Introduction To Deleted Song by Don Hahn: “Human Again”

    Duration 7:44. Introduction by Don Hahn to the original early concept for the “Human Again” song followed immediately by the presentation of the first “Human Again” proposal. This version was rejected and replaced with another proposal which was finally dropped for the original theatrical release. The special edition reintroduces this segment which helps to pass time and permits the relationship between Belle and the Beast to grow stronger. In the original this time jump was much too sudden.

Deleted Song: “Human Again”

    Duration 6:57. The first concept proposal for “Human Again”, which is of course very rough draft animation with the expected artefacts. This version is somewhat longer than the final version that was inserted for the special IMAX release and this extended edition DVD release.

Music
Musical Magic

    Duration 2:41. Music is of course a critical component to any successful movie and this presentation highlights some of the special characteristics of the music behind Beauty and the Beast. One of the strongest features of the music is the fact that all seven pieces were developed by the Oscar-winning team of Howard Ashmen and Alan Menken.

Alternate Score: The Transformation

    Duration 2:02. Alan Menken introduces the first version of the music written to support the final transformation scene where the Beast returns to human form. This original music segment was later toned down to be more transparent and subtle.

Introduction To Deleted Song By Alan Menken: “Human Again”

    Duration 7:39. Alan Menken discusses the original version of “Human Again” and the early storyboarding involved in choreographing and writing the segment.

Deleted Song: “Human Again”

    Duration 6:57. The same segment as the earlier “Human Again” segment.

The Characters
Strength Of Character

    Duration 3:57. Several of the script writers and producers discuss the various characters created specifically for the animated adaptation of Beauty and the Beast to both increase the story's complexity and interest as well as providing some comic relief.

Vocal Heroes: The Voice Talent

    Duration 5:01. An introduction to the various people responsible for providing the character voices, including Paige O’Hara (Belle), Robby Benson (Beast), Angela Lansbury (Mrs Potts). Angela was also the one who sang the “Beauty and the Beast” song although at first she didn’t want to – as it turns out, the version they used was the first and only take. Also featured are Jerry Orbach (Lumiere) and David Ogden Stiers (Cogsworth).

Character Art Galleries

    Several galleries featuring both concept and actual character sheets for all of the principal characters. Some images also have an audio commentary. It is generally hard to visualize each character as being anything other than what they are, however as you look through these galleries you can imagine just how difficult it must have been to determine the final look and feel of some of the characters, although others, such as Lumiere are instantly obvious.

    Belle

    4 galleries, 30 images, 4 with audio commentary. Details the early sketch development of the character Belle. The final European-styled Belle was an interesting fusion of many of these early concept sketches.

    Beast

    5 galleries, 43 images, 5 with audio commentary. Details the early sketch development of the character of the Beast. Thankfully many of these early concepts were discarded in favour of the Beast we have today which is actually an amalgam of a lion, buffalo, wild boar, gorilla, bear and a wolf no less; there is also special mention of the Beast's soulful eyes.

    Lumiere

    2 galleries, 17 images, 2 with audio commentary. Details the early sketch development of the character Lumiere. It is quite obvious that they very quickly converged on the final concept of Lumiere.

    Mrs. Potts & Chip

    3 galleries, 20 images, 4 with audio commentary. Details the early sketch development of the characters Mrs. Potts and Chip. Chip’s original role was very small and was later expanded during production.

    Cogsworth

    2 galleries, 17 images, 2 with audio commentary. Details the early sketch development of the character Cogsworth.

    Gaston & Le Fou

    6 galleries, 48 images, 7 with audio commentary. Details the early sketch development of the character Gaston and Le Fou. Gaston literally matured from a French Aristocrat to the muscle-bound hunter in his final form after some influence from an earlier Disney film, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. Gaston’s sidekick Le Fou also underwent many changes, originally being referred to as “Oui Oui”! Yeah, right.

    Maurice & Philippe

    4 galleries, 36 images, 3 with audio commentary. Details the early sketch development of the characters Maurice and Philippe. Ah dear, choices, choices – which Maurice shall it be? Or, more importantly, which Philippe shouldn’t it be? As an aside---one of these images in particular, in gallery three, is truly a work of art.

    The Townspeople

    3 galleries, 22 images, 3 with audio commentary. Details the early sketch development of the various village characters. No computer-generated extras here, each townsperson had to be specifically designed and hand drawn and in many cases even named.

    Other Enchanted Objects

    5 galleries, 41 images, 5 with audio commentary. Details the early sketch development of the various enchanted castle occupants. One of these galleries is dedicated to the dog ottoman character and another is dedicated to the wardrobe character; also to be found here is the model sheet for the rumoured music box.

Production Design

    These galleries were fully animated, such that you stroll down and back up the hallway, stopping to view each gallery on the walls. What is really cool is that as you wander down the halls, you can also glimpse the other fully animated gallery halls complete with pictures. All-in-all, an excellent and novel approach.

The Stage Is Set

    Duration 3:11. The background designs and layouts for the world of Beauty and the Beast were intended to mimic the seasons as the story progressed. Starting in autumn with warm colours for the townspeople, moving into winter hues and shadows for Belle's imprisonment in the castle and finally awakening into spring with rich, vibrant colours for the movie's climactic finish.

Concept Art & Design

    Animated hall with 8 galleries, 72 images, 8 with audio commentary. Much of the original plans for a more serious, subdued and formal movie were abandoned when Alan Menken and Howard Ashman joined the production team and changed the focus of the design. This is a spectacular gallery and there are some real treasures hidden away in here. Many of these paintings are great even if they didn’t really work for the movie.

Layouts & Backgrounds

    Animated hall with 8 galleries, 69 images, 8 with audio commentary. A series of layouts and background designs for every scene in the feature. Again this is magnificent, but only just barely touches on the real work that must have gone into creating all 1,300 painted backgrounds for the feature.

Animation
Animation

    Duration 6:48. Commentary with James Baxter (Supervising Animator – Belle), Glen Keane (Supervising Animator – Beast), Nik Ranieri (Supervising Animator – Lumiere), Will Finn (Supervising Animator – Cogsworth) and Andreas Deja (Supervising Animator – Gaston), who discuss the various challenges facing each of them in bringing their characters to life. There is a tremendous amount of pride as these animators discuss their contributions to bringing the story of Beauty and the Beast together.

Animation Tests, Roughs & Clean Ups

    Duration 4:55. This is a brilliant overview of the whole early animation sequence up to post-production but before final painting and colouring. It is truly inspiring to see how each supervising animator outlines the major interactions and detailed expressions of each character within a particular scene. Each stage of early animation is covered from the rough animator sketches of the scene outline, the highlighting of specific details where necessary, the in-betweeners who fill in the gaps and extend the drawings and finally to the clean-up artists who add all the minutiae details necessary to bring the animation to life. The ”Work In Progress” version includes segments with animation at each of these various stages. You can also clearly see the differences in rough drawing style between the various animators.

The Transformation: Pencil Version

    Duration 5:25. Don Hahn (Producer) introduces the original draft version of the final “Transformation Sequence” where the Beast transforms back into Human form. This is immediately followed by the complete rough sketch of the sequence (Duration 4:18). I personally find it quite incredible just how expressive and emotional a few rough lines sketched on paper can be, such as with Belle and her reactions to the Beast's transformation – beautiful.

A Transformation: Glen Keane

    Duration 3:13. Glen Keane (Supervising Animator – Beast) discusses how he approached the transformation scene for Beauty and the Beast. This is a must-see segment, as no summary would do it justice. Suffice it to say that his opening remark is: “There are certain moments in a film that you get a chance to animate that you feel – gosh I was born for this moment”, which clearly indicates just how he felt about animating this particular scene.

Tricks of the Trade
Animation With Computers

    Duration 2:36. Beauty and the Beast was one of the first (I think The Black Cauldron was the first) animated films to use computer aided animation. James Baxter was the animator responsible for hand animating Belle and the Beast dancing in the ballroom sequence. This was a very complex sequence to animate due to the changing vertical and horizontal perspective. Of course today it is almost impossible to find an animated feature that does not make at least some use of computer-aided rendering and animation.

Camera Move Test

    Duration 2:07. This is the first early camera test of the ballroom scene, rendered in wireframe and with no animation.

Release and Reaction
A High Profile Preview

    Duration 1:45. Don Hahn relays the story behind the “Work In Progress” version of the film when Disney Studios were invited, for the first time ever, to show their latest feature, still unfinished, at the New York Film Festival. This was back in a time when Disney was still seen as producers of children’s animation and were not considered a serious movie studio. As it turns out, after this screening many critics were forced to change their attitudes towards not only Disney but also animation and view it as a serious film medium.

Release And Reaction

    Duration 1:46. A short presentation covering the spectacular reaction from audiences to Beauty and the Beast when it premiered on Nov 13th, 1991. In many ways this film was responsible not only for reinventing Disney, but also for increasing the credibility of animation as an art form.

Awards

    Duration 1:11. Beauty and the Beast was the first animated film to be nominated for Best Picture Academy Award. It lost to The Silence of the Lambs, but managed to pick up three Golden Globe awards (Best Picture, Best Original Score, Best Song). This extra shows just how much Disney and the production team were caught by surprise by the audience and industry reaction to their film.

Howard Ashman: In Memoriam

    Duration 3:30. This is an emotional memorial to Howard Ashman (Music & Lyrics) who died of A.I.D.S., 6 months before the completion of the film. He is remembered in the credits with the following dedication:

”To our friend, Howard, who gave a mermaid her voice and a beast his soul. We will be forever grateful.”
Trailers & TV Spots
Introduction By Don Hahn

    Duration 0:35. Don Hahn introduces the various first look trailers that were developed to promote Beauty and the Beast.

Original Release Trailer

    Duration 1:58. The audio sync in this trailer is at least a second in front of the image at 1:15.

Large Format Release Trailer

    Duration 2:34. This trailer, created for the recent re-release in large format IMAX theatres, features the Beauty and the Beast ballroom sequence. The audio for this trailer exhibits some remarkably good and bad points; on the plus side it demonstrates an incredible level of ambience and presence, however on the negative side it has very poor bass mixing that results in a mushy sound.

TV Spot #1

    Duration 0:32. Yes it’s a commercial.

TV Spot #2

    Duration 0:32. And another one, with an action bent.

TV Spot #3

    Duration 0:32. And yet another one, this time focusing on the award nominations.

TV Spot #4

    Duration 0:17. Quick, rush out and see Beauty and the Beast, it won three Golden Globe awards. There. I managed it in what, four, maybe five seconds---tops.

Original Release Publicity Gallery

    These galleries were fully animated, such that you stroll down and back up the hallway, stopping to view each gallery on the walls.

    Animated hall with 2 galleries, 14 images, 3 with audio commentary. This gallery contains publicity material, posters and printed advertising that was used for the original 1991 release of Beauty and the Beast. The images range in style from artwork targeted at an adult audience to materials designed to appeal to families and young children.

Large Format Publicity Gallery

    Animated hall with 2 galleries, 12 images, 2 with audio commentary. This gallery contains publicity material, posters and printed advertising material that was used for the 2002 Special Edition large format IMAX release of Beauty and the Beast. A useful tidbit of information is the origin of one of the scenes from the added segment “Human Again”, which was a parody of “American Gothic”.

Beauty and the Beast Music Video

    Duration 4:27. Performed by Celine Dion & Peabo Bryson and introduced by Celine.

The Broadway Musical
Broadway Bound

    Duration 3:27. In order to adapt Beauty and the Beast to Broadway, it was necessary to get Alan Menken back to create additional musical numbers that allowed the Broadway production to further develop and explore the story with the additional time budget available. Needless to say it was a phenomenal success and is still showing today after over 3,000 shows in New York alone. The success of this venture led to the production of further Disney musicals based on “The Lion King”, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and even “Aida”.

Broadway Musical Publicity Gallery

    These galleries were fully animated, such that you stroll down and back up the hallway, stopping to view each gallery on the walls.

    Animated hall with 4 galleries, 34 images. This gallery presents a collection of posters from all over the world promoting the musical and several photos from the production detailing some of the creative costumes and sets.

Costume Design Gallery

    Animated hall with 1 gallery and 9 images. This gallery presents some early concept sketches for the design of the musical production costumes and characters, including some new characters such as the rug.

The Special Edition

    Duration 3:07. The producers highlight the reasons why “Human Again” was removed from the original feature and how they were able to re-incorporate it after some experience with the Broadway Musical Production. There is also another gem in here, which has left me completely flabbergasted. None other than Dick Cook, Chairman of Walt Disney Studios says, regarding the atrocious Disney habit of hiding titles in the “Vault” for the better part of a decade, and I quote: “The reissues used to be a real staple of the way in which we did business and we would release our films, our animated films every seven years, for a whole new generation. And then with the advent of home video, and, and all, and now DVD, it became really out of fashion”. Yet this DVD release is already part of Walt Disney Studios Platinum Collection and will be withdrawn from sale after a short period for supposedly another 10 years. What’s going on Disney?

Chip (Kitchen)

Disney’s Animation Magic
Introduction

    Duration 1:28. Ren Stevens and Louis Stevens from “Even Stevens”, a Disney Channel production, provide kids with a guided tour through the Walt Disney Animation Studios. These extras are clearly aimed at a younger audience, interested in how Disney animation is brought together to create an animated film. These extras are not specific to Beauty and the Beast and cover Disney’s animated films in general including some of the Pixar studio productions.

Storyboard

    Duration 1:18. A good introduction to the storyboarding process using a scene from Toy Story as an example.

Character Design

    Duration 1:43. Another good introduction to character design, using characters and their discarded proposals from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Beauty and the Beast, Peter Pan and The Little Mermaid.

Animation

    Duration 2:07. Another good overview for kids on how animation is put together. Includes a very good example using none other than Donald Duck.

Effects Animation

    Duration 1:24. A good introduction to the art of special effects animation - that is, animating anything and everything that is not a character using Atlantis, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast as examples.

Computer Animation

    Duration 2:21. An introduction into how computers are used in animation including some excellent examples such as the gears in “The Great Mouse Detective” (the first time Disney used computer animation), the magic carpet in Aladdin, the wildebeest in The Lion King, the huns in Mulan, the jungle texture mapping in Tarzan and of course the ballroom scene from Beauty and the Beast.

Sound Effects

    Duration 2:20. A final introduction to the sound effects department, showing some of the creative ways sound effects are generated including some very interesting examples such as the old leather wallet that is used to creak the squeak of the dwarves shoes in Snow White.

Chip’s Challenge

    This is a simple Musical Memory Game where Chip teaches you to play a tune by extending the tune one note at a time. This is probably a reasonable challenge for very young kids and the finale makes the effort worthwhile. Solution: Jelly, Urn, Napkin, Bowl, Pot, Platters, Cups.

Beauty and the Beast Music Video

    Duration 4”05. Presented at 1.85:1, this is not 16x9 enhanced. Performed by Jump 5, this is the classic song “Beauty and the Beast” presented with a rap theme. It’s really hard to picture rap dancing to “Beauty and the Beast” ever working; and who are “Jump 5” anyway?

Mrs. Potts (Den)

The Making of Beauty and the Beast

    Duration 28:04. Celine Dione presents “Tale as old as Time”, the making of Beauty and the Beast. This is effectively a concatenation of several other segments already covered, including:

  1. Origins of Beauty and the Beast
  2. Bringing The Story To The Screen
  3. Finding the Story
  4. Musical Magic
  5. Strength of Character
  6. Animation
  7. Release and Reaction
    with the addition of two final segments; Happily Ever After that concludes with a summary of the success that Beauty and the Beast has enjoyed and the effect it had on both Disney and their audiences, and a final closing comment by Celine Dion. There is some aliasing and moiring at 26:31 on Michael D. Eisner’s (President, Disney Studios) jacket as he chats away during the credits about turning Beauty and the Beast into a real-life, non-animated, musical film, incorporating some of the additional Broadway songs. I guess we will see about that one.
Mrs. Potts’ Personality Profile Game
”How wonderful, company's here. Let me warm you a cup of tea and then we can get acquainted. I must say, you remind me of someone here in the castle; oh, who could it be?”

    This is a simple but mildly amusing game where the answers to a series of questions help determine which character from Beauty and the Beast you most resemble (Fifi, Belle, Mrs. Potts, Lumiere, The Beast or Cogsworth). The various questions are randomly selected from a larger collection and not all questions appear to determine the final match. Of particular amusement is one of the questions for Monsieurs which contains a very obvious spelling error that somehow slipped through quality control:

      Question “Which most reflects your thinking?”,
      Answer “B) There are excetptions to every rule” (sic).

The Story Behind the Story

    Celebrity hosts reveal the stories behind Disney’s greatest classics.

Introduction

    Duration 1:48. Celine Dion introduces this series of clarifications of the original stories behind the various Disney animation adaptations. There is some moiring on Walt Disney's jacket at 0:24.

Cinderella

    Duration 2:32. Cinderella has its origins in a 9th century tale from China, although there are over 1,000 versions with a variation in almost every country in the world. Disney’s adaptation was taken from the French version, the “Cendrillion”, 1697.

The Lion King

    Duration 3:29. The Lion King started its life as “King of the Jungle” and was one of the few original tales developed by Disney.

Pocahontas

    Duration 3:04. The legend of Pocahontas is based on a true story although the details are often debated. Disney extensively adapted the real story for the animated version.

The Jungle Book

    Duration 2:45. Based on Rudyard Kipling’s, “The Jungle Book”, 1894. This was the last animated feature produced by Walt Disney, who died during its production.

Sleeping Beauty

    Duration 2:35. Based on a combination of the story's adaptation by Charles Perrault, 1697 and the later adaptation by the Brothers Grimm, “Little Briar Rose”, in their story collection.

Mulan

    Duration 2:46. Based on a very well-known Asian fairy tale that is over 2,000 years old, Disney’s adaptation is more a modernization of the original story, although the basic premises supposedly remain unchanged.

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame

    Duration 2:35. Based on Victor Hugo’s original story, “Notre Dame de Paris”, which was inspired by the single word ‘fate’ found engraved into the stone wall of a tower in the Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris. Disney adapted the core of Victor’s tale in their animated version of a beautiful soul, trapped in a hideous exterior, seeking acceptance.

Beauty and the Beast Music Video

    Duration 4:27. Repeat of the previous music video performed by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson.

Red Rose (West Wing)

“The fate of all who live in the castle might rest in your hands, for through this door you may have the chance to break the spell and return everyone to human form.”

    This is part two of the “Break the Spell” game from Disc 1, however that is where the similarity ends as this game is far more interactive, involving and ultimately challenging. For those of you who remember playing ”Dragon’s Lair” at the arcades, you will be very familiar with the look and feel of this game. In a nutshell, it is the best interactive fully animated game I have ever seen on a DVD-V and Disney have ultimately raised the bar again as far as DVD extras are concerned. My only complaint is that it was so short. The video is very sharp and highly detailed and extensively employs seamless branching which is not always seamless on some players.

    Continuing on from Disc 1, Chip arrives on Maurice’s completed invention and asks you to follow him into the castle. In order to access this section and get past the door, you will need the code that was provided by Chip when you completed “Maurice’s Invention Game”. (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Just in case you have forgotten; the access code is Star, Moon, Cloud. Chip invites you into the Castle den where he shows you the Enchanted Rose through the Magic Mirror. As you are looking, the storm blows the protective glass cover from the Rose and Chip starts you off on a multi-part adventure game to save the Rose. Be warned though, each mistake will cause a petal to drop from the Rose - lose all five petals and the spell cannot be broken!

Candle Game:

    You will need fast reactions to dodge the candles as you follow Chip to the West Wing via a shortcut. (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Solution: LRLRLR.

Enchantress Challenge 1:

    The Enchantress asks you where true beauty comes from. You must answer correctly to proceed. (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Answer: (B) True beauty comes from within.

Match the Shadows:

    You will have to match the human shadows to the enchanted characters. (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Solution: 1--2, 2--4, 3--1, 4--3 (character--shadow).

Dodge the Balls:

    The pet Ottoman wants to play ball on the steps, except these are bowling balls! You will need to dodge the balls coming down the stairs, and failing that you may need to jump them. (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Solution: LULULU.

Enchantress Challenge 2:

    The Enchantress asks you who is the richer. You must answer correctly to proceed. (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Answer: (A) One with a heart of gold.

Odd One Out:

    All is not right in the castle - one of the paintings on the wall is not right. Can you spot which one? (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Solution: Painting 3.

Dodge the Debris:

    The final challenge awaits you. Make your away safely across the room, dodging all the debris from the storm and rescue the Rose. (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Solution: UDURLR.

    Congratulations, you’ve saved everyone in the castle.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     As far as we can tell this disc is identical to the R1 version except we have the improved resolution and colour reproduction of PAL formatting and would appear to be less affected by over-compression artefacts due to the implementation of seamless branching in our version.

Summary

    This DVD is absolutely stunning and one of the best available. If you have children, may have children or even know any children then you must add this to your collection immediately. This is especially true given Disney’s release schedule which ensures that we will not see this title available again until the next decade when Blu-ray and HD-DVD will be the norm.

    The video is absolutely gorgeous. Disney have performed a marvellous restoration on this feature.

    The audio is very good, however I felt it lacked general presence and body.

    The extras were extensive and of very high quality. Disney really knows how to put together an impressive collection of extras and this disc is no exception. The interactive game provided on Disc 2 also sets a new standard in what is possible on DVD.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael S Cox (to bio, or not to bio?)
Saturday, October 26, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplayJVC Interiart Flat 68cm Display 16:9. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3802
SpeakersFront LR - NEAR MainMast, Center - NEAR 20M, Surround LR - NEAR Spinnaker DiPoles, Rear LR - NEAR MainMast-II, Subwoofer - NEAR PS-2 DiPole

Other Reviews
AllZone4DVD - Magalie S
DVD Net - Terry O
region4dvd.net - Darren R (read my bio (fun for the whole family))

Comments (Add)
Sounds great - DMM (yeah bio whatever) REPLY POSTED
disney has raised the bar - orangecat (my kingdom for a decent bio) REPLY POSTED
Seamless branching? - REPLY POSTED
Problem with video quality? - REPLY POSTED
re: problem with video quality - orangecat (my kingdom for a decent bio)
re: problem with video quality -
re: Problem with video quality? - Roger (Some say he's afraid of the Dutch, and that he's stumped by clouds. All we know, this is his bio.)
re: Problem with video quality? - REPLY POSTED