049 - Beauty And The Beast (1991)

Disney's Beauty And The Beast retells the story of the French fairy tale La Belle et La Bête.

Belle is the only daughter of an eccentric inventor, Maurice. She is the most beautiful girl in the town and is courted by local arrogant hunter, Gaston.

She ends up as prisoner in the castle owned by the beast, a prince who'd been punished for not appreciating that beauty is on the inside. There the beast must convince her this too in order to the break the spell and calls upon his enchanted servants to help him.

There Belle begins to understand about the beast, but can she break the enchantment before it's too late?

Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia
Beauty And The Beast is Disney's 30th animated film. As with many of Disney's animated films, it takes on a fairy tale, adapts it slightly and adds a lot of light-hearted music to stamp down Disney's family-friendly appeal. It came at a time that Disney were struggling to gain any popularity and desperately needed a film to pretend that The Black Cauldron and The Great Mouse Detective didn't exist.

This time, La Belle et La Bête is the fairy tale and the adaptations are vast; Belle is now an only daughter, Maurice is now an inventor, Gaston now... exists. You get the idea.

While Disney doesn't often disguise their musicals, this is perhaps one of their most out-and-out films in this genre. At the beginning of the film, Belle randomly bursts into song so much it is difficult to believe you're not watching The Sound Of Music. Despite a couple of mediocre songs, Beauty And The Beast managed to win over audiences with Be Our Guest and, of course, the title song which is now engraved into Disney's history in with a big bold chisel.

The characters are also full of life; Lumière and Cogsworth - an enchanted candlestick and clock - will undoubtedly go down as one of Disney's greatest double acts, while casting Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts - the enchanted (you guessed it) teapot - was a masterstroke, especially as she was a household name having put many successful films under her belt already.

Of course, Disney would go on to more adventurous films during the 1990's including Aladdin and The Lion King, but this was start of the revolution.