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Beauty and the Beast (1991)
"Beauty And The Beast " is Disney animation at its best.
In a time where hand-drawn animation is a thing of the past and computer animation is the dominant form of art, it is necessary to reminisce to a time when Disney animation was at its peak instead of at the sorry state it is in now. Beauty and the Beast retains the charm and elegance of the old Disney films such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Peter Pan. If anything, the music is phenomenal, often being hailed as the cartoon Broadway musical. Songs such as "Be Our Guest" are brimming with soaring string melodies and punchy brass chords, while the latter song even provides operatic aria vocal talents if listened to closely enough. "Battle On The Tower" is possibly the best form of orchestration from any Disney film ever, capturing the dramatic urgency of the final battle between the beast and Gaston as well as the humour of the animated characters. Apart from the music, the characters are naturally funny, likable and charming. In particular, the voice talents of Angela Lansbury create a comforting,touching, motherly atmosphere as Mrs Potts in the film's most moving musical number, "Beauty And The Beast". Even Gaston is almost a comical caricature of the baddie, creating moments of humour with his arrogant and hilariously naive belief that Belle will be his wife. The charming nature of the characters is a far cry from the characters in recent cinematic features (such as Chicken Little) where the writers are almost trying to make the characters funny and faltering embarrassingly. There doesn't seem to be the natural "charm" present in Disney films anymore. Rather, children seem to be interested solely in the modern visual representation of things, with Home On The Range being the last hand-drawn animated effort from Disney. Disney is now trying to "wow" youngsters with impressive special effects rather than trying to tug on their heartstrings, and not always with success (remember Treasure Planet?). Furthermore, Disney is trying to aim their films towards kids more and more and so there is not the "family entertainment" factor anymore. Beauty And The Beast seems to provide humour for the children with animated characters such as Cogsworth and lumiere, while the love triangle between Gaston, Belle and the Beast provides humour for the adults (in particular, Gaston's arrogance and chauvinistic view towards women, while appalling on some levels, does provide light adult humour). In contrast, the recent film "Chicken Little" may have used some form of humour for adults but was yet too juvenile to be enjoyed by an adult audience. It now appears that adults are taking their kids to the cinema for their kids and not for the whole family anymore. There are some advantages to modern Disney cinema; the computer animation is spectacular and Disney must also pertain to the times. With more and more computer games around, kids want to see computer animation more and more in films; Disney are simply trying to serve a modern audience. The sad thing about this is that Disney films now seem to lack the rich deep colours present in "Beauty And The Beast" to accommodate a warm, rich, deeply satisfying and charming cinematic experience. Disney computer animation seems somewhat colder and as such the humour and characters seem cold. What a shame that the new generation of Disney fans will only be fed visually rather than through the soul with the charm and poignancy of Disney at its best; Beauty and The Beast.