Art director Brian McEntee color keyed Belle so that she is the only person in her town who wears blue. This is symbolic of how different she is from everyone else around. Later, she encounters the Beast, another misfit, also wearing blue. It symbolized good in the film whereas red symbolized evil (the color of Gaston's shirt is red).
The film is dedicated to Howard Ashman, the lyricist, who died before the movie's completion. At the end of the final credits, you can read the dedication: "To our friend Howard, who gave a mermaid her voice and a beast his soul, we will be forever grateful."
The dance between Belle and her Prince in the finale is actually reused animation of the dance between Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip in Sleeping Beauty (1959). The original Sleeping Beauty (1959) pair had been drawn over to become the new Beauty and the Beast (1991) pair, and this was done because they were running out of time during the production of the movie.
Angela Lansbury, the voice of Mrs. Potts, thought that another character would be better suited to sing the ballad "Beauty and the Beast". The director asked her to make at least one recording to have for a back up if nothing else worked, and that one recording ended up in the film.
The smoke seen during the transformation of the Beast to the Prince is actually real smoke, not animated. It was originally used in The Black Cauldron (1985) and was re-used for Beauty and the Beast (1991).
While his true name is never mentioned in the media franchise, it has been confirmed by the CD-ROM tie-in game ("The D Show") and the Beauty and the Beast Broadway musical that the Beast's real name is Prince Adam.
The first stained glass window seen in the prologue has the Latin phrase 'vincit qui se vincit', which means, in a subtle prefiguring of the arc of the whole story, 'He conquers, who conquers himself'.
Many scenes were storyboarded but never animated. Those include a scene where Gaston visits the Asylum and a scene where the Beast is seen dragging a carcass of an animal he killed. Both where considered too gruesome for the film and the ideas were dropped.
In the first song, where Belle sings in the town, she sits by a fountain. As she reads the book (described earlier, as an adventure with a prince in disguise. It sounds just like Beauty and the Beast), she flips to a page, with a picture. Look closely, and you will see see that she is in the bottom right, the beast in the middle left, and the prince's castle in the middle.
Glen Keane, the supervising animator on the Beast, created his own hybrid beast by combining the mane of a lion, the beard and head structure of a buffalo, the tusks and nose bridge of a wild boar, the heavily muscled brow of a gorilla, the legs and tail of a wolf, and the big and bulky body of a bear. He also has blue eyes, the one physical feature that does not change whether he is a beast or a human.
Robby Benson's voice was altered by the growls of real panthers and lions so that it is virtually unrecognizable. This is why near the end when the Beast transforms into the prince his voice changes. His voice is also not changed on the original motion picture soundtrack.
The prologue states that the rose will bloom until the prince is 21. Later, in "Be Our Guest", Lumiere sings "Ten years we've been rusting..." so, if the castle has been enchanted for ten years, and the prince is now 21, then the prince was 11 years old at the time he encountered the enchantress.
The original "cute" character of the movie was a music box, which was supposed to be a musical version of Dopey from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). But when the character Chip's role was expanded, the music box idea was scrapped. However the music box can be seen for a brief moment on a table next to Lumière just before the fight between the enchanted objects and the villagers in the Beast's castle.
In the 1930s and again in the 1950s, Walt Disney attempted to adapt Beauty and the Beast (1991) into a feature but could not come up with a suitable treatment, so the project was shelved. It wasn't until The Little Mermaid (1989) became hugely successful that they decided to try it a third time.
HIDDEN MICKEY: There's a hidden classic Mickey in the 'Mob Song' when Gaston and Co. are chopping down the tree. The Mickey is located after the tree's chopped down - there are 3 droplets of water that form an upside-down classic Mickey head. Also, a trio of stones by the roots to the left of the cottage at the beginning form an upside-down vision of the symbol.
When Beast and Gaston are having their life-or-death struggle on the castle, Gaston yells, "Belle is mine!" Originally he was supposed to say, "Time to die!" but the writer changed it to fit Belle back in the scene.
In Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve's "The Story of Beauty and the Beast," - which was the original version of the tale - the prince was not turned into a beast for being selfish and unloving, but because he refused to marry his evil fairy godmother. Likewise, Beauty's challenge in understanding the beast was not his volatile temperament but his stupidity, for in beast form he could not express himself intelligently.
In the French release, Cogsworth's name is Big Ben, after the famous clock in London. The landmark's real name is "The Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster", while Big Ben is actually the name of the largest bell in the tower. The clock is seldom referred to by any name other than Big Ben.
The song 'Be Our Guest' was originally supposed to be sung to Maurice instead of Belle, but Bruce Woodside pointed out that the song was in the wrong place because Maurice was not the focus of the story, and it made no sense to waste such a wonderful song on a secondary character.
This was the first Disney animated film to use a fully developed script prior to animation. The story had been developed through use of storyboards only in previous films, then was further developed during animation. One possible explanation for this was that several previous Disney films had gone way over budget when animators spent too much time and effort animating scenes that would eventually be deleted from the final cut of the film.
Computer technology was considered for the rooftop fight and the forest chase, but the primitive state of the technology only allowed time to use it for the ballroom scene. Even for that scene, they had a fallback strategy: what they called the "Ice Capades" version, with just a spotlight on the two characters against a black background.
A song sung by the enchanted objects entitled "Human Again" was cut before production started. The song was later added to the Disney on Ice and theatrical productions and was recorded and animated for the 2002 IMAX re-release. It was also added to the Platinum Edition released on October 8th 2002, making the movie a bit longer.
Disney was originally going to have Jodi Benson, the voice of Ariel in The Little Mermaid (1989) also provide the voice for Belle. However, it was decided that Belle needed a more "European" sounding voice. Howard Ashman remembered working with Paige O'Hara and suggested she try out for the part.
All of the dialog spoken by Tony Jay (Monsieur D'Arque) heard in the film was recorded during his audition. This brief role led to him being cast as Judge Claude Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996).
By the time Alan Menken and Howard Ashman won an Academy Award for Best Original Song (for the song "Beauty and the Beast"), Ashman had already died. Ashman's longtime romantic partner, Bill Lauch, accepted the award on his behalf.
For the song "Be Our Guest", Alan Menken created placeholder melodies that Howard Ashman would be able to write lyrics for. Alan later decided that those original melodies were more suitable than anything else he could compose, and they became the final version of the song.
The film was previewed at the New York Film Festival in September 1991 in a "Work-In-Progress" format. Approximately 70% of the footage was the final color animation. The other 30% consisted of storyboard reels, rough animation pencil tests, clean-up (final line) animation pencil tests, and computer animation tests of the ballroom sequence. This marked the first time that Disney had done a large-scale preview of an unfinished film. There was some concern at the studio as to what the audience, consisting of only adults, would think of the work-in-progress version. According to producer Don Hahn the audience gave the film a strong, overwhelming standing ovation.
Almost the entire cast are stars of Broadway musicals (most notably Angela Lansbury and Jerry Orbach), and Disney intended it that way, hoping that a theatrical backer could finance a future stage version of the film.
Originally, the film was going to be more faithful to the original French fairy tale, which features a more darker and sinister theme to the film, however when Alan Menken and Howard Ashman joined the production, this idea was dropped.
For the song "Gaston", Howard Ashman had written more lyrics than were required, so some lyrics had to be cut for the final version in the movie. The cut lyrics were later reinstated for the version performed in the Broadway musical.
The first Disney animated feature to use fully rendered and textured 3-D CGI moving backgrounds in combination with the traditionally animated character animation, a technique that was expanded upon in the Disney short Off His Rockers (1992) and later in Aladdin (1992).
Art directors working on the film traveled to the Loire Valley in France for inspiration, and studied the great French Rococo painters of the 18th Century, like Fragonard and Boucher, to give their settings a European look.
Caricatures of the directors, Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale, can be seen in the scene where Belle is given the book as a gift. As she is leaving the store three men are seen pretending to not look through the window and then they sing, "Look there she goes. The girl who's so peculiar. I wonder if she's feeling well." They are the two men on the outside of the large blonde man.
The signs that Maurice comes upon when going to the fair, according to movie commentary, read from top to bottom: Saugus, Newhall, Valencia and Anaheim, all towns in Southern California where mostly everyone at Walt Disney Feature Animation lived. The sign just above Saugus reads Ramona, another town in Southern California, although the commentary did not mention it specifically.
'Beauty and the Beast' opened on Broadway at the Palace Theater on April 18, 1994 starring Terrence Mann, Susan Egan and Tom Bosley. It ran for 5461 performances closing on July 29, 2007. It was the seventh longest running play on Broadway (2010), and was nominated for the 1994 Tony Award (New York City) for Best Musical.
Of the three animated films nominated for Best Picture this is the only traditionally hand-drawn film. Additionally it is the only animated film to be nominated alongside four other nominees as opposed to nine (Up (2009)) and eight (Toy Story 3 (2010)). It is also the only animated film to be nominated for Best Picture without being nominated for Best Animated Feature, as the latter category had not been created at the time.
If you look closely at the page of the book that Belle is holding during "Belle" as she is sitting at the fountain, you can see that beneath the illustration of the prince and princess in the garden are the words 'le prince de charmont.' This can be interpreted as French for 'Prince Charming,' but it is interesting to note that the author of the adapted, shorter version of Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve's "The Story of Beauty and the Beast," was named Jeanne-Marie le Prince de Beaumont.
Beauty and the Beast (1991) became the first movie musical to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture of the Year since All That Jazz (1979) and the last one until Moulin Rouge! (2001), ten years later. Of the movie musicals nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Beauty and the Beast (1991) is the only animated musical film to be nominated for the award.
Disney's original choice for director was Richard Williams, fresh off directing the animation for Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). Williams declined the offer in order to continue work on The Princess and the Cobbler (1993), but suggested Richard Purdum. Purdum's treatment was closer to the original story, with a darker tone and no musical numbers. Unsatisfied with the initial story reels, Jeffrey Katzenberg asked Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, who were just finishing work on The Little Mermaid (1989), to add songs and contribute story ideas. Purdum left the production at the end of 1989, feeling the project was no longer the film he wanted to make. The opening scenes of his initial treatment can be seen as an extra on the 2010 Diamond Edition DVD/Blu-Ray release.
The second Disney animated feature to use their proprietary CAPS (Computer Animation Production System) system entirely, a digital ink, paint, animation and camera process. The Rescuers Down Under (1990) was the first Disney film to use the system.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Paige O'Hara sobbed real tears while recording Belle's mourning of the Beast. Her performance was so intense that the director asked her if she was OK, upon which O'Hara immediately dropped out of character and said "Acting!"
When Gaston is falling at the very end, there is close-up of his eyes. For a few frames a tiny skull flashes in each of his eyes. In the theatrical release, as Gaston plunged to his implied death and his face filled the screen, two frames showed skulls in his eyes. For the VHS and laserdisc release, these frames were altered to remove the skulls from his eyes. However, no such alteration was made for the DVD release. The Disney Company claims that the skulls determined Gaston's fate as fans were unsure whether he died or not at the end.
Originally the Beast was supposed to be stabbed by Gaston twice: once in the leg and again in the side, followed by Gaston pushing himself off the tower and laughing maniacally while falling. The filmmakers changed it to just his side to avoid the already dramatic scene becoming too disturbing for children, but Gaston's edited suicide is a probable explanation for his choosing such a dangerous position to kill the Beast despite knowing that he would never win Belle's heart.
An original draft for Gaston's demise was suppose to be that the wolves would kill him after surviving his fall from the Beast's castle with a broken leg. This plot was later use in The Lion King (1994).
Glen Keane was most excited about the transformation sequence and said it would be the highlight of his career in animation. He purposefully asked that it be the last thing animated of the Beast in order to save 'the dessert for last'. The schedule said that he would only have two weeks to complete the animation. He went to producer 'Don Hahn' and asked that it be changed because he was not going to be able to get the emotion across that was needed on such a tight agenda. Hahn told him to forget about the schedule and take as long as was needed.
The character of Gaston was not in the original fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast. Rather, he was inspired by the antagonist of the 1946 French film Beauty and the Beast (1946). Avenant also was in love with Belle and tried to kill the Beast upon learning that she loved him, losing his life in the process. Reportedly, a direct-to-video sequel to the Disney movie was to feature a villain named Avenant, Gaston's revenge-seeking younger brother, but the project was scrapped in favour of Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997).
Alan Menken composed two different musical scores for the Beast's death scene. The original (which is part of the Transformation piece on the original motion picture soundtrack) was considered too happy for the feeling needed so Alan Menken changed it to the version now heard in the film.