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Beauty and the Beast: Platinum Edition DVD Review

Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition Blu-ray + DVD -- click to read our reviewIn 2010, Disney reissued Beauty and the Beast in a new Diamond Edition Blu-ray + DVD that issues change to the film while gaining and losing many bonus features.

Click here for our detailed review of that and here to buy it from Amazon.com
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Movie - 1991, G, 84 minutes (SE: 91 minutes)
Genre - Animation, Musical, Family, Drama
Cast - Voices of Paige O'Hara, Robby Benson, Richard White, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers, Angela Lansbury, Bradley Pierce, Rex Everhart
Directors - Kirk Wise, Gary Trousdale
DVD - 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen (matted from 1.66:1), Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French); subtitles - English; single-sided, dual-layered disc; $29.99 SRP, Released 10/8/02

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Review by Kelvin Cedeno

Movie - Beauty and the Beast is the embodiment of the Disney at its finest. Its intricate animation, elegant score, and lovable characters illustrate what Disney is able to achieve in their medium.
This film is special, and everyone at Disney working on the film knew it. Perhaps one of the few animated feature films that non-fans of the genre will admit to liking, Beauty and the Beast has universal appeal that transcends time. The film does not feel dated in any form whatsoever.

The average person already knows the plot of this classic story. Belle and her eccentric father Maurice live in a quiet village in France where every day is like the one before. Belle herself is an outsider who is ahead of her time and apart from her surroundings. She has a passion for reading and longs adventure "in the great wide somewhere." Despite the fact that she doesn't fit in with the common folk (visually depicted in the contrast of her blue clothes with the warm, earthy colors the other townspeople wear), the brawny, muscular, and handsome Gaston plans to wed her.

Belle talks with Lumiere the candelabra and Cogsworth the clock, two of the castle's enchanted items.

When Maurice goes off to the fair to enter one of his newest inventions, his horse Phillipe gets frightened away by a pack of angry wolves and Maurice ends up at a mysterious and forboding castle in the midst of the forest. In this castle, he discovers various enchanted objects with personalities all their own, including the motherly Mrs. Potts and her curious son Chip, the lady's man (or candelabra, more accurately) Lumiere, and the pompous, self-appointed leader Cogsworth the mantle clock.

The enchanted residents (minus Cogsworth) warmly welcome Maurice into the castle, but are rudely interrupted by the ferocious beast who is master of the castle. Accusing Maurice of trespassing, the beast locks him away in the dungeon. Back home, Gaston shows up at Belle's doorway to propose. Appaled by Gaston's vanity and brainlessness, she denies the proposal, therefore humiliating Gaston in front of the townspeople who are waiting outside. When Phillipe comes back without Maurice, Belle knows something has gone wrong and has Phillipe take her to where Maurice was left.

Gaston scowls in the company of his diminutive henchman LeFou.

In the castle, Belle finds her father locked up in the cold, dungeon, horribly ill. In an act of pure love for her father, Belle offers to take her father's place as prisoner, even after viewing the beast's appearance. Maurice is taken back to the village in an enchanted carriage by the beast's orders.
Once there, he tries to get help but is dismissed by the townspeople as a loony. While at the castle, Belle discovers the enchanted servants and is treated to dinner in a Broadway-style showtune, complete with can-can forks and multi-colored spotlights.

Although told by the Beast that the West Wing is forbidden, Belle's curiosity gets the better of her and she enters anyway. Inside, she finds the wing in ruins, but something catches her attention: a glowing, sparkling rose floating above a small table under a glass bell jar. This rose has an important history, for the Beast was actually a prince-turned-beast by an enchantress for not knowing inner beauty. If he could learn to love another in his beastly form before the last petal of the rose fell, he and the enchanted objects will all become human again. If not, he and the others will remian in their state forever. When the beast sees Belle reaching out to touch the rose, he panics, afraid she'll cause the petals to fall. In his panic, he scares Belle off, who later is attacked by wolves out in the forest. The beast comes to her rescue and it is here where the bitterness towards each other begins to soften. Can the beast really learn to love in time? More importantly, will Belle be able to look past his rough exterior and see the soul within?

The Beast is reluctant to learn manners.

Beauty and the Beast comes as close to perfection as possible any human creation can hope to. There's so much attention to detail that one needs to view this multiple times (and then, yet another time with the commentary) to take in everything. The songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman are all of the highest quality--there's not a single dud in the entire soundtrack. What is especially wonderful is the script, which handles the obvious "beauty is found within" moral very subtly and beautifully, as opposed to forcing it down the audience's throats.

As many know, Beauty and the Beast was the first animated feature to be nominated for the Best Picture Oscar (and most likely last, due to the new "Best Animated Feature" category). Unfortunately, it lost to the also excellent Silence of the Lambs, but that didn't stop the film from earning rave reviews, financial success, and an enduring following. Disney re-released the classic for IMAX theaters on New Year's Day 2002 with a new song titled "Human Again," along with a digitally processed restoration and a few tweaks here and there. The song itself is just as much a Broadway style song as "Be Our Guest," if not more so. Seamlessly blended into the film, the animation is as good as the rest of the original film and the entire voice came back to reprise their roles for this scene. Beauty and the Beast is a masterpiece that truly deserves the title of "masterpiece" and Disney has treated it as such in this 2-disc Platinum Edition.

Belle ponders life amidst her horse Phillipe.

Video - The highlight of this DVD package (besides the extensive bonus material) is the fact that Beauty and the Beast is presented in three different versions: the 2002 Special Edition, the original 1991 theatrical version, and the 1991 Work in Progress version shown at the New York Film Festival before the film's release. Although this film, like most modern Disney animated features, was animated in the 1.66:1 ratio, all three versions display the film in an aspect ratio of 1:85.1 (enhanced for 16x9 televisions). The Special Edition contains the previously mentioned "Human Again" sequence and because the enchanted objects spiff up the castle during this number,
disheveled areas and background had to be re-done for continuity's sake. Beauty and the Beast has never looked better than this. The THX-certified transfer used on the theatrical and special edition versions shines and glistens on screen like never before.

Only one major problem occured on both cuts--edge enhancement. Due to the fact that three versions of the film (as well as several features, which will be discussed later) were crammed onto a single-sided dual-layered disc, it was bound to occur. The fact that three versions of the film appear on one disc led to a bit of controversy over whether or not Disney used seamless branching or if they really did cram in nearly 6 hours of footage on one disc. After viewing all three versions, it seems that Disney used the same first half of the film for both the 'theatrical' and 'Special Edition' cuts, then branched off from "Human Again" to the scene where Belle leaves the castle, then back to having both using the same footage. The reason for this is after Belle leaves the Beast to go find Maurice (who's sick and lost in the woods), the backgrounds that had been re-done for the special edition go back to their original state, implying that perhaps Belle's departure put the Beast in rage and he re-destroyed the castle.

Cogsworth and Lumiere lack color in the Work in Progress cut of the film.

The Work in Progress edition uses DVD's 'Angle' feature to create a mix of separate video footage for the unfinished animation and footage taken from the theatrical cut. The finished animation on this edition is simply too cleaned up and remastered and it seems improbable that Disney would undergo a THX certified restoration for this. The Work in Progress Edition is approximately 70% of completed animation. The rest contains rough and cleaned up animation, as well as an occasional storyboard. Due to the fact that this is a only a work in progress edition, the Work-in-Progress cut has many film artifacts, which is understandable and the inclusion of this version gives an interesting look at an unfinished Disney film and how long it takes to complete (even though many scenes were not yet finished, the film was due a matter of months after this version was shown!).

Colors on the theatrical and special editions are vivid and rich, and sharpness (apart from some edge enhancement) is accurate, without any soft shots whatsoever. All in all, the transfer should please most, though the video quality undoubtedly would have been rid of problems if the work in progress cut had been on a separate disc.

Audio - All three versions of the film have the same Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track and the sound quality (just as the picture) exceeds any previous version ever available. Music and dialogue is spread nicely across the main speakers, while the vivid sound effects spread across the rear. Dialogue remains crisp and clear, and Disney even edited an audio mistake on previous editions involving one of the Beast's lines. (Editor's Note: Well, if it was a mistake, which is debatable. Nonetheless, this has altered the original theatrical cut.) The score is as lively as ever, and unlike many current films, it doesn't drown out the dialogue. A French track (also in 5.1) is included here as well.

Lumiere's dynamic tune "Be Our Guest" is unquestionably a highlight of the film.

Extras - In the tradition of Disney's two-disc sets, Beauty and the Beast comes jam-packed with bonus material. Unlike other Disney two-discs, though, Beauty and the Beast features more family and children-oriented features to go along with the more standard film fan ones.

On Disc 1, we find an audio commentary with directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale, producer Don Hahn and composer Alan Menken. This commentary is lively and fun, as the filmmakers mock the film's plotholes and bloopers yet provide many interesting tidbits on the production. This commentary can only be heard with the Special Edition.
Also on disc 1 is Maurice's Workshop Game. This is essentially a breezy trivia game in which you get rewarded with a three symbol code for accessing The West Wing on Disc 2 (in a nice touch, the code is included within the booklet for those who don't remember it or don't wish to bother with this aspect of the game). The Work in Progress Edition contains an introduction by Don Hahn, and finally there's a Sing-Along track in the form of large subtitles for children. Rounding out the disc are sneak previews for The Jungle Book II (coming to theaters February 2003), The Lion King (coming to IMAX this Christmas), Lilo & Stitch (coming to DVD December 3), Beauty and the Beast: Enchanted Christmas (Special Edition DVD coming November 12), Sleeping Beauty (Special Edition DVD scheduled for May 2003), Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year, and a commercial for Walt Disney World.

Disc 2 is where the real enchantment begins. The disc is divided into 4 sections: Cogsworth and Lumiere's Library (for the ultimate film fan), Chip's Fun and Games (for the young at heart), Mrs. Potts' Engaging Treats (for all ages), and The West Wing.

When entering the West Wing, the three symbol code is required to proceed. Once through, you must follow Chip to the West Wing to protect the enchanted rose's petals from blowing away in the storm. This is achieved by avoiding obstacles using the arrow keys, answering morality questions, matching each enchanted object to its human shadow, and deciding which Beauty and the Beast still contains an error. The obstacle portions are quite annoying due to the fact that some of the directions you must go to don't make sense. In the end, your reward for winning the game is...the end of the movie, a letdown indeed.

Cogsworth and Lumiere's Library has everything a film fan can want on the making of Beauty and the Beast. A Play All option takes the main featurette from each subdivision in the library and combines them all into a 51 minute documentary. The documentary was quite interesting and well made; it never felt too light and fluffy or too bogged down with information.

It's more than a hallway - it is the interactive art gallery.

Going into each subdivision in the library provides much more footage than what was included in the documentary. "Development" contains an early representation reel introduced by Don Hahn. This reel is composed of early concept art put to some stock music to give the crew working on the film an idea of what it would be like.

In Story there is an alternate version of the rousing number "Be Our Guest" with Maurice being sung to rather than Belle along with some altered lyrics. Also in Story is an early storyboarded version of "Human Again" introduced by Don Hahn and put to a demo tape by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. Many of the elements in this version of the song ended up being used in the song "Something There."
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The storyboarded version of "Human Again" can also be found in the Music section with an introduction by Alan Menken. Joining it is and the transformation scene from the film put to the original alternate score.

The Characters contains an extensive character design gallery for all of the film's characters. As with the Snow White DVD, certain pieces of art contain audio commentary by a hostess who provides background information on the piece. Two more galleries appear in Production Design. Concept Art and Design shows the development of certain areas and color schemes of the film, while Layouts and Backgrounds provide the finished backgrounds seen in the film along with their penciled versions. Both galleries also contain the same type of audio commentary the Character Design gallery did. Animation holds a reel of a animation tests, roughs, and clean ups with audio commentary by Don Hahn who provides interesting insight into the tests. A pencil version of the transformation also appears here, as well as an interview with animator Glen Keane on the scene and what it meant to him personally.

Tricks of the Trade features a camera move test of the famous ballroom dance sequence, showing how such a primitive use of computers resulting in the breathtaking final version. Release and Reaction contains the original 1991 theatrical trailer and its tv spots as well as the 2002 theatrical trailer for the IMAX special edition. Publicity galleries for both releases also appear here (complete with the hostess commentary) and they contain things such as posters, test posters, and newspaper ads. Release and Reaction also includes the lovely 1991 pop music video for the theme song, sung by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson. The last section left in the library is the Broadway musical, which also contains two galleries: a publicity gallery for the musical and a costume design gallery. Unlike all the other galleries featured in the library, these two do not contain the audio guided tours.

No, it's not "Even Stevens" on DVD. It is, however, Shia LaBeouf (and Christy Carlson Romano, not pictured) discussing animation during the time of that Disney Channel comedy's filming.

Next up is Chip's Fun and Games, which starts off with Disney's Animation Magic. This is set of clips which can be viewed individually or combined to form a 15-minute-featurette. Hosted by Shia LeBouf and Christy Romano (stars of the Disney Channel comedy "Even Stevens"), this is a fun and energetic look at how a Disney animated feature is made and contains sound bytes from various Disney animators and directors, as well as some behind-the-scenes footage. Less interesting is Chip's Muscial Challenge Game, which is basically a memory game in which you select various kitchen objects for music in the order they're played. It's a a cute game, and after the annoying Break the Spell adventure in the West Wing, this game was more than welcome. Finally, there's a new pop rendition of the theme song performed by pre-teen group Jump 5. Though not as wonderful as the 1991 rendition, this bouncy cover will entertain children and is better than other Disney pop renditions. (Ed's Note: Just wait til we get Aaron Carter's "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" on Lion King's DVD.)

Someone seriously needs to add the "Dramatic Pauses" to Celine Dion's cue cards.
Someone seriously needs to add the "Dramatic Pauses" to Celine's cue cards

The last major area left to explore is Mrs. Pott's Engaging Treats. We start with a 25-minute "Making of Beauty and the Beast" featurette, which is almost entirely comprised of supplemental material found in Cogsworth and Lumiere's library. Outside of the opening and closing, if you've gone through the extras, you've already seen this featurette. This might be of interest to those who don't have a lot of time, but the 51 minute version covers much more ground and access the individual sections of the library shows everything. A better idea would've been to use the original 1991 documentary hosted by David Odgen Stiers that was included on the laserdisc. (Ed: I agree! Disney better include the Robert Guillaume one for Lion King!)

"The Story Behind the Story" synopsizes famous Disney films with some discussion of their origins.

Next is an interesting section called "The Story Behind the Story". Introduced by Celine Dion (yessss!), this feature is composed of synopses of various Disney animated films introduced by various Disney celebrities.
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Each section provides a short synopsis of the feature and a brief-but-interesting lesson on the background and origins of the story and film. All the clips can be combined into a featurette running at approximately half an hour. The films covered are Cinderella (hosted by Paige O' Hara), The Lion King (hosted by James Earl Jones), Pocahontas (hosted by David Odgen Stiers), The Jungle Book (hosted by Robby Benson), Sleeping Beauty (hosted by Jodi Benson), Mulan (hosted by Ming-Na), and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (hosted by Angela Lansbury). Next up is Mrs. Pott's Personality Profile Game in which you answer your questions that determine which character from the film you are. Rather than just having the same questions all the time, the questions asked are determined by your previous choices and also by the gender you choose at the start of the game. This reviewer got Cogsworth and is perfectly all right with that. Finally, the last feature is the 1991 pop music video which was also found in the Release and Reaction portion of the library.

THIS...is CNN.

Although the menus for Beauty and the Beast are more simple and less overblown than Snow White's, all of them are computer-animated and in a wonderful touch, the original voice cast is back to comment on when you make a selection or when you take too long to decide. Unfortunately, the packaging for this DVD doesn't match the first Platinum Edition's double alpha case at all; Beauty comes in a dual-amaray case, standard size, inside of a glossy cardboard outer case. It would have been nice to have some consistency for all of the Platinum releases, but it seems that Disney is now putting their two-disc sets in the slim cases. All bonus material is presented in 1:33.1 fullscreen and the menus are in Dolby Digital 5.1.

Beast and the Beauty

Closing Thoughts - Beauty and the Beast is one of those films (animated or not) that truly deserve all the attention they receive. The new sequence is incredibly catchy with the same gorgeous animation the rest of the film has, and the inclusions of the theatrical and work in progress editions was a nice move by Disney (though this should've been made a 3-disc set so the WIP could have its own disc and therefore leave the other versions with the highest quality possible). Picture quality is still excellent, though, as is the sound. The bonus material covers a wealth of information and fun that appeals to everyone in the family which is what Disney is keen for, of course. The tale as old as time will forever live on and so will this outstanding 2-disc Platinum Edition.

Note: The Beauty and the Beast Platinum Edition DVD went out of print on January 31, 2003. In the years since, it has become extremely hard to find in stores. Your best bet at tracking down a copy is using the link below to purchase through Amazon.com Marketplace. As always, read carefully and make sure you don't wind up buying a bootleg. The movie is not expected to resurface on home video again until the fall of 2010.

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The Ultimate Guide to Disney DVD Home

Complete Disney Animated Classics List

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Other Platinum Editions:
The Little Mermaid Aladdin The Lion King 101 Dalmatians The Jungle Book
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Bambi Cinderella Peter Pan Lady and the Tramp

Sequel: Belle's Magical World | New Princesses: Enchanted The Princess and the Frog

Disney in the 1990s:
The Rescuers Down Under Pocahontas (10th Anniversary Edition) Hercules
Mulan (Special Edition) The Rocketeer Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Muppet Christmas Carol The Mighty Ducks The Santa Clause Newsies
Dinosaurs: The Complete First and Second Seasons Home Improvement: The Complete First Season

Disney Princess: A Christmas of Enchantment (featuring Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas recap)
Disney Princess Stories: Volume One - A Gift From The Heart

Related Pages:
Top 50 Disney Heroes & Heroines Countdown (featuring Belle)
Top 30 Disney Villains Countdown (featuring Gaston)
Top 100 Disney Songs Countdown (featuring "Gaston" "Something There", "Belle", "Be Our Guest", "Beauty and the Beast")
Top 20 Disney Animated Classics Countdown

Related Interviews:
UD Interviews Don Hahn, the producer of Beauty and the Beast
UD Interviews Ilene Woods (voice of Cinderella) and producer Don Hahn

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Reviewed October 23, 2002.