Week 30: Beauty and the Beast

What Every Animated Film Wishes To Be Like

Belle

Originally Released: 1991

When I was young, my family didn’t buy many movies on VHS. Much less the expensive Disney ones. So imagine my surprise when one winter night I find a copy of Beauty and the Beast in our living room. If I remember right, it was meant to be a Christmas present to the family. But whatever the reason for the purchase, I do know that this particular gift made at least one member of my family very, very happy. Beauty and the Beast put me under its spell that winter and has never let go.

Rose

Much has been said about Beauty and the Beast. Its praises were many upon its release in 1991, and the following awards season was very kind to the film as well (which, no doubt, had some influence on our family to obtain a copy). Personally, I think every bit of praise is absolutely deserved. Beauty and the Beast is a marvel. The splendid animation, the show-stopping music, and the touching theme and message combine to make this a spectacular film (side note – it always saddens me when I think that society, or at least the part of society that runs the Oscars, preferred a film about a cannibalistic serial killer over a film with such an uplifting message as Beauty and the Beast – alas, but that is a story for another day). Not only is it my favorite Disney animated film, but it is one of my favorite films, period. Though there have been some great animated films released before and after Beauty and the Beast, to me, this is still the film that is the standard-bearer for animation.

And the winner for "Best Kiss in an Animated Film" goes to...Beauty and the Beast! They literally created fireworks with this kiss.

And the winner for “Best Kiss in an Animated Film” goes to…Beauty and the Beast! They literally created fireworks with this kiss.

I could go on and on about how much I like this movie, but I decided to go in a different direction for this post. Disney was kind enough to include in their Blu-ray package an unfinished version of the film, and this presented a unique opportunity for my blog. I decided to watch the unfinished version and then post some side-by-side shots of both the work-in-progress version and the finished product. The work-in-progress screens include storyboards, original sketches, and various stages of animation. So this blog post is now not only my Beauty and the Beast appreciation post, it is my “All-the-Hard Work-that-Goes-into-a-Disney-Feature” appreciation post. Hopefully you find it as interesting as I do to see some of the different stages in creating an animated masterpiece.

Opening storyboard

Opening scene with Belle leaving her home. It stayed very close to the original storyboard.

Opening scene with Belle leaving her home. It stayed very close to the original storyboard.

 

Belle Castle sketch

You can see that the very early version of Belle looks a little different, but this scene stayed remarkably true to the original vision shown in the sketch.

You can see that the very early version of Belle looks a little different, but this scene stayed remarkably true to the original vision shown in the sketch.

 

Beast Castle Sketch

The same scene, but with the beast. You can see that the beast's look changed, and for the better.

The same scene, but with the beast. You can see that the beast’s look changed, and for the better.

 

Lumiere rough

Thankfully, the character animators didn't need to animate the flames on Lumiere. This was done later.

Thankfully, the character animators didn’t need to animate the flames on Lumiere. This was done later.

 

Dance rough

I thought this was really cool to see. The mixture of 3D and 2D animation, in negative form. The finished scene was incredibly beautiful and a highlight of the film.

I thought this was really cool to see. The mixture of 3D and 2D animation, in negative form. The finished scene was incredibly beautiful and a highlight of the film.

 

Beast Gaston rough

I can't make a post of this movie with out at least one reference to Gaston. Great villain with biceps to spare.

I can’t make a post of this movie with out at least one reference to Gaston. Great villain with biceps to spare.

 

Belle-Beast 1

Belle-Beast cleaner

Here we can see three different stages of animation. The first is still pretty rough, the next is getting cleaned up, and finally there is the finished product.

Here we can see three different stages of animation. The first is still pretty rough, the next is getting cleaned up, and finally there is the finished product

Transform rough

The effects animators did an awesome job with this transformation, as did the Beast's animator Glen Keane. Others have parodied this moment, but only because it is so iconic. I love it.

The effects animators did an awesome job with this transformation, as did the Beast’s animator Glen Keane. Others have parodied this moment, but only because it is so iconic. I love it.

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4 thoughts on “Week 30: Beauty and the Beast

  1. My favorite Disney Canon film, Disney film, animated film, and one of my favorite films in general too!

    What do u think of the deleted song, “Human Again”?

    • jlwalser says:

      I actually really like the song and the performances and whatnot, but there’s a catch: I like it better when it is not seamlessly blended into the film. I feel like when they inserted it into the extended edition, we get a bit of musical overload in that part of the movie, because it is “Something There,” immediately followed by “Human Again,” immediately followed by “Beauty and the Beast.”

      In other words, I prefer the original theatrical release if given the choice. But I don’t dislike it by any means. How do you feel about it?

      • I love the song, but I understand what you mean about being a musical overload with those 3 songs back to back in the Platinum Edition.

        Oh, I’ve started a new blog where I plan to review all of Disney’s live-action movies in case you’re interested.

  2. jlwalser says:

    Hey that’s interesting. I will have to check it out. By the way, I liked your index page so much on your fogotten characters blog that I used the concept here. It is a good way to organize and quickly get to a specific post. Thanks for the inspiration!

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