By Charly SHELTON
It’s a tale as old as time, and a movie as old as me. The classic Disney film, “Beauty and the Beast” has just been released in stunning 3D. This adds a whole new dimension to the classic love story about a beautiful girl who falls in love with a hideous monster who has a heart of gold.
For those of you who didn’t have a VHS machine in the ’90s, this classic movie is one that my generation grew up watching. Belle is the most beautiful girl in her small French village. She is sweet and kind and would rather bury her nose in a book than go out to the tavern with friends.
Pursuing her affections is Gaston, the most handsome man in the village. He is the man that every girl wants and every man wants to be. But all he wants is Belle because she is the prettiest and therefore the best. Gaston, being long on self-praise but short on intellect, is not Belle’s ideal husband.
Meanwhile, in a castle in the woods there lives a beast. He is hideous and monstrous made to outwardly reflect his inward ugliness after an enchantress casts a spell on him. He has until his 21st birthday to make someone fall in love with him and show that he is not all horrible. His enchanted castle is full of his servants who were changed into common household utilities and furnishings – Lumiere, a candlestick, Cogsworth, a clock, and Mrs. Potts, a teapot – to name just a few. They will all remain in this state forever if the master of the castle cannot show that he can be more than just a beast.
Belle’s father ends up as a prisoner of the beast and Belle offers to trade her freedom for her father’s. The beast forces her to live in his castle forever. But out of the sadness of being a prisoner comes a connection between the two that nobody thought was possible – the beauty and the beast fell in love.
This is a great movie, so much so that when it was originally released it was nominated for best picture, back before there were 10 nominees for best picture. Back when a best picture nomination for an animated film really meant something, this film was one of the best films of the year, animated or otherwise. The first animated film in the history of the Oscars, in fact, to ever receive such an honor.
With Alan Menken’s music and Paige O’Hara providing the voice for Belle, the soundtrack is one that has lasted through the years, with the songs still being played at Disneyland despite the noted lack of a Beauty and the Beast attraction. This film has left a lasting impact on society and now it is back in 3D.
After the success of “The Lion King” in 3D, Disney has a whole slate of classic films to be re-released in 3D, the first of which is this. While adding another dimension to the film can be great for realism or just enjoying a new effect, it can also make audiences realize some errors in the film that they never saw before.
For instance, a benefit is seeing the chorus of women behind Gaston singing, never noticing in 2D how voluptuous and bouncy they were. This is something specifically drawn by the animators to make these girls bounce all over the screen, but in the original
2D version, it is not drastic enough to really see how much movement there is.
Conversely, watching characters move through a 3D space throws into sharp relief the shoddy animation of some of the background characters. Many of the crowd scenes in town or in the tavern are populated either by basic characters (a little smile and dots for eyes instead of a detailed face) or in some cases just blobs of shadows with hats that are animated for a two second loop, so that as you watch them, they repeat the same two seconds of action over and over.
Despite the shortcomings of some shots, the overall product is great. If you are a fan of the movie, go see this in 3D. At upwards of $15 a ticket, though, you may want to consider how important that third dimension really is when you can get the DVD of the 2D film for roughly the same price of one ticket.
I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars, and the 3D version 4 out of 5 stars.