Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review

An animation masterpiece with a few new bonus features attached 4.5 Stars

From its opening song to its closing waltz, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is a perfect piece of screen entertainment: a charming (though definitely not cloying), stylish, and interesting version of Mme. LePrince de Beaumont’s 18th century fairy tale.

Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Released: 22 Nov 1991
Rated: G
Runtime: 84 min
Director: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
Genre: Animation, Family, Fantasy
Cast: Robby Benson, Jesse Corti, Rex Everhart, Angela Lansbury
Writer(s): Linda Woolverton (animation screenplay by), Brenda Chapman (story), Chris Sanders (story), Burny Mattinson (story), Kevin Harkey (story), Brian Pimental (story), Bruce Woodside (story), Joe Ranft (story), Tom Ellery (story), Kelly Asbury (story), Robert Lence (story)
Plot: Belle, whose father is imprisoned by the Beast, offers herself instead, unaware her captor to be an enchanted prince.
IMDB rating: 8.0
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: Disney
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Rating: G
Run Time: 1 Hr. 24 Min./1 Hr. 31 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy
Case Type: keep case in a slipcover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: ABC
Release Date: 09/20/2016
MSRP: $39.99

The Production: 5/5

From its opening song to its closing waltz, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is a perfect piece of screen entertainment: a charming (though definitely not cloying), stylish, and interesting version of Mme. LePrince de Beaumont’s 18th century fairy tale. It may not have the darkness and bittersweet melancholy of Jean Cocteau’s 1946 live-action version (made in Paris when the war debt made filmmaking in France an ordeal comparable to Reconstruction), but it’s nevertheless a stunning and altogether delightful motion picture achievement. It’s saying something when an animated cartoon contains all of the elements of a successful film in perfect proportion, something that very few live action films today seem able to manage: Beauty and the Beast is alive with spectacle, comedy, and romance, its music is abounding with color, spirit, insight, humor, and warmth, and it’s as finely and precisely acted and directed a movie as any live action feature. Beauty and the Beast is, quite frankly, one of the greatest animated films ever made. The film’s 25th anniversary is being celebrated in this new Blu-ray release of the movie with a few new bonus features that fans may find interesting but with the masterful film itself, as it should be, of primary importance.

The famous old story is well-known: how an enchanted prince cursed to the ugly shell of a beast must find a beautiful maiden to love him for his inner goodness in order for the spell to lift. In Cocteau’s version, Beauty is drawn toward the town’s most handsome man Gaston and must come to love the Beast in spite of her prior feelings. In this Disney account, Beauty is repelled by Gaston and flees from his egotistical advances. Her attraction to the Beast has fewer obstacles for her to overcome. As in all the most memorable Disney animated tales, the character voices make the movie. Here, they are without exception wonderful. Paige O’Hara bountifully performs the role of Belle, and her stirring singing makes her musical numbers all highlights. Robby Benson’s voice has been electronically deepened to add doubly to his fierceness as the Beast, but it softens as his feelings for Belle blossom into love. And Richard White’s munificent bass-baritone provides Gaston with the boastful swagger and the profound musicality to pull off the handsome rogue to utter perfection.

Disney’s animated films always contain secondary characters as delicious and exceptionally interesting as the leads (sometimes even more memorable), and three of them in this movie prove unforgettable. Angela Lansbury beats all comers as the no nonsense Mrs. Potts, the talking teapot, who serenades the lovers with the score’s most exquisite number, the title song sung as the two fall in love. Jerry Orbach’s spunky French candelabra Lumiere certainly has the film’s best lines while David Ogden Stiers is full of officious self-importance as the talking clock Cogsworth. Jo Anne Worley has a cute moment or two as the chatty Wardrobe as well.

The earlier reference to the film’s haunting title song is not a slight to the remainder of this magnificent musical score by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman. In much the manner of a Broadway musical, there are introductory songs to get exposition out of the way quickly through song and dance (the opening ” Belle”), character numbers to fill in chinks of characterization (Gaston’s egocentric self-tribute, “Something Strange” between Belle and the Beast), and marvelous and sweeping production numbers. The latter, an extravaganza of whirling silverware, dishes, and assorted crockery set to the tune of “Be Our Guest” outdoes anything short of Busby Berkeley in its largess and expansive use of rhythm, movement, patterns, and panache. The other big production number “Human Again,” added to the special edition version of the film included on the disc, gives the animators and actors another tour de force sequence, but after “Be Our Guest,” it’s not quite as special.

But the quality, love, and joy put into this project is stamped onto every frame of this wonderfully vivid film. And when the Beast takes Belle for a moonlit walk around his palace, when they dance and hold hands and look into each other’s eyes, it’s the essence of screen romance despite the fact that these are animated characters. It has the magic of purity and truth without ever seeming corny or overly sentimental.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

The film has been framed at 1.78:1 and is presented in 1080p using the AVC codec. Color saturation and sharpness are exemplary throughout the presentation without ever dipping into blooming, and the animation lines are crisp and unaffected by artifacting of any kind: the image is reference quality. No evidence of banding is present in the film transfer. It appears to be the same transfer as in the previous Blu-ray release. The film in its extended special edition has been divided into 22 chapters.

Audio: 5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix makes the music sound truly spectacular with orchestra routed throughout the soundfield and singing voices mostly in the center channel with an occasional directionalized placement that makes excellent use of the rear and back channels. Dialogue has been superbly recorded and is never overpowered by the music or atmospheric effects. When the villagers attack the enchanted castle, there is again excellent utilization of the fronts and rears to give the listener an immersive experience.

Special Features: 3/5

Audio Commentary: carried over from previous Blu-ray releases, the commentary features producer Don Hahn, directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, and composer Alan Menken. It’s a lively remembrance of the work filled with funny and also touching stories which last right to the end of the disc. The commentary is only available with the Special Edition version of the movie.

Film Variations (HD): There are three versions of the film offered on the disc: the original 1991 theatrical cut (1:24:54), the special edition cut with “Human Again” added in, and a new-for-this-release sing along version of the original theatrical cut.

Always Belle (11:32, HD): Paige O’Hara, the original voice of Belle, reminisces about her career, recalls her five auditions for the role, and shares her memories of working with the great Howard Ashman.

Menken & Friends: 25 Years of Musical Inspiration (19:06, HD): eight-time Oscar winning composer Alan Menken welcomes four other composer/lyricists who have worked on Disney animation projects to share memories of their reactions to Beauty and the Beast’s transcendent score: Stephen Schwartz (Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame), Lin-Manuel Miranda (the upcoming Moana), and Frozen’s husband-and-wife team of Robert and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.

#1074: Walt, Fairy Tales & Beauty and the Beast (9:36, HD) Disney staff historians discuss the genesis of the Disney library which Walt drew from for inspiration on upcoming animation projects.

The Recording Sessions (3:48, HD): frustratingly brief glimpses of Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers, and Angela Lansbury recording dialogue and songs for the classic soundtrack.

25 Fun Facts About Beauty and the Beast (5:24, HD) Disney Channel’s Gus Kamp and Kayla Maisonet host a countdown featuring little-known fun facts, anecdotes, and hidden Easter Eggs about the movie.

Beauty and the Beast Sneak Peek (1:24, HD): director Bill Congdon shows snippets from the table read and a very brief clip or two of the live action version of the film coming in March 2017.

Classic Bonus Features (0:43, HD): a brief blurb that reminds viewers interested in previous bonus material contained in prior Beauty and the Beast releases that they can be found via streaming through the Disney Movies Anywhere code which is enclosed in the case.

Promo Trailers (HD): Moana, Finding Dory.

DVD/Digital Copy: disc and code sheet enclosed in the case.

 

Overall: 4.5/5

Yes, it’s the same audio and video transfer of the movie which has been previously released, but Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is a rare bird among even today’s films, an unashamed musical romance that’s right for every member of the family. The Blu-ray combo package offers beautiful high definition versions of the movie with superb sound and a few new bonus features that fans may covet but which really can’t justify a repurchase unless one is a Beauty completest. Nevertheless, highly recommended!

Published by

Matt Hough

author,editor

21 Comments

  1. Pass.
    Sorry but Disney needs to release firstly domestic 3D Blu-ray releases of Frozen, BigHero 8, Maleficent and Jungle Book(2016) before rehashing old transfers.

  2. That price of US$22.96 comes up as for Amazon Prime Members only as have a number of titles in the passed few days. I am outside US and Prime would be of little, if any, use to me.

    I have the original Laserdisc set of this film and the Workprint version plus the previous DVD/Blu Ray incarnations. The Workprint I got on Laserdisc was a good one but many shipped were faulty and made at the plant that opened and closed a couple of times in Michigan. Not sure if that was the one Fox used and then bought, Magnetic Video.

    Time Disney made Special Editions of those titles that put out bare bones in Blu Ray thru their special club which is not exportable. Like Pollyanna, for example.

  3. Pass…I’ve had the original DVD and then the BD. That’s good for me, as much as Andrey and I both LOVE this movie. I’m all for celebrating anniversaries and tie-ins, but I can’t get on board with the Signature Editions.

    Now, when The Enchanted Christmas comes out in about a month, I’ll be grabbing that in a hot second.

  4. Also, they still haven’t fixed the branching error after the song “Something There.” It’s a small thing, but there’s a shot from the Special Edition in the theatrical version, and a shot from the theatrical version in the Special Edition. It’s also wrong on the DVD, which is just the the “theatrical version,” which leads me to believe it’s a problem with their current master.

  5. For something called a ‘Walt Disney Signature Edition’ this ought to have contained ALL of the extras from the previous Diamond Edition, plus the 3D version and the new extras in a deluxe 3 disc offering, so as not to ruin compression. I mean, what would it have killed Disney Inc. to offer a 3 disc affair, jettisoning the ridiculous DVD inclusion herein. DVD’s dead, or rather, ought to be and combo packs are a thing of the past. Catch up with the times, Disney. And please, start being more proactive with your deep catalog to Blu!

    Are we really going into 2017 with no sight of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the original Parent Trap, Song of the South, So Dear To My Heart, The Three Caballeros, Make Mine Music, and all of the Silly Symphonies and retired on DVD Mickey, Donald, Goofy et. still unreleased on home video?!?!? Not to mention the epic screw ups on Bedknobs and Broomsticks and The Sword and the Stone on Blu-ray. The company has plenty of back catalog to crib from. So why the persistent rehashing of stuff we already own in editions we sincerely don’t need; stripping away, rather than adding to the extras we have come to expect. Oh…right. It’s Disney. I almost forgot, as though the Mouse House would let me!

  6. matt-hough

    Beauty and the Beast: 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Review

    From its opening song to its closing waltz, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is a perfect piece of screen entertainment: a charming (though definitely not cloying), stylish, and interesting version of Mme. LePrince de Beaumont's 18th century fairy tale.

    [review]

    Click here to read the original article.

    Much as this version has songs and color and is in English… I still don't think it beats Cocteau …

    The Criterion bluray has Phillip Glass' Opera score in 5.1 as an alternate Audio track if you must have singing 😎

  7. As much as Andrey and I love this movie, I can't justify the repurchase. There's nothing here that we don't have on the shelf already.

    That being said, splendid job as always, Matt. And The Enchanted Christmas is coming very soon…I'm 100% committed to getting THAT title.

  8. As much as Andrey and I love this movie, I can't justify the repurchase. There's nothing here that we don't have on the shelf already.

    That being said, splendid job as always, Matt. And The Enchanted Christmas is coming very soon…I'm 100% committed to getting THAT title.

    I don't have it on Blu-ray yet either. I think Disney forgot to send it the last time it was up for review.

  9. I don't have it on Blu-ray yet either. I think Disney forgot to send it the last time it was up for review.

    I don't know if this is a Disney Movie Club exclusive or a general retail release. I can't find a good listing on Amazon for the BD…really, regardless, I'm getting it. There's no way it can be ANY worse than Cinderella II and III…

  10. Thanks for the reivew, Matt.

    One annoying thing is that they still haven't fixed the branching (or editing or whatever) error at the end of "Something There," which left a shot from the Special Edition in the theatrical version and a shot from the theatrical version in the Special Edition. It's also that way on the accompanying DVD, which is only the theatrical version, which leads me to believe it's a problem with their current master.

  11. Thanks for the reivew, Matt.

    One annoying thing is that they still haven't fixed the branching (or editing or whatever) error at the end of "Something There," which left a shot from the Special Edition in the theatrical version and a shot from the theatrical version in the Special Edition. It's also that way on the accompanying DVD, which is only the theatrical version, which leads me to believe it's a problem with their current master.

    Might be burned in now, remember its kinda hard to remaster this film since it was rendered entirely in digital source files.

  12. I don't know if this is a Disney Movie Club exclusive or a general retail release. I can't find a good listing on Amazon for the BD…really, regardless, I'm getting it. There's no way it can be ANY worse than Cinderella II and III…

    I've seen it in Target and Wal*Mart …

  13. It's not listed specifically as an exclusive on DMC yet though neither were Pocahontas and Mulan re-releases.   Preorder price is still 22.99 with release date scheduled  10/25

    The second category (or third really if you include the older timed exclusives) of exclusives that started with Aladdin 2/3 is still hard to outguess.

  14. Might be burned in now, remember its kinda hard to remaster this film since it was rendered entirely in digital source files.

    I dunno; I think it was correct on the 3D version, and I saw it last weekend at the El Capitan in 2D, and it was correct there, too.

  15. It's not listed specifically as an exclusive on DMC yet though neither were Pocahontas and Mulan re-releases.   Preorder price is still 22.99 with release date scheduled  10/25

    The second category (or third really if you include the older timed exclusives) of exclusives that started with Aladdin 2/3 is still hard to outguess.

    Product Detail

    Available to own 10/25/16.

    Includes a Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD of the movie.

    Temporary price reduction.

    Not eligible for additional discounts.

    It's not listed as an Exclusive

  16. I'm perfectly satisfied with the original Blu-ray of this film and based on this review it looks like I will be for years to come. But the continued inclusion of multiple versions here makes the existing Blu-ray of Bedknobs and Broomsticks even more unforgivable.* If they revisited this film on Blu-ray, will they do the same for this, and if so, when? And will it just be a rehash of what we already got or something to really do it justice?


    *This fall, IgerCorp is treating the butchered travesty that is the 117-minute theatrical cut to two 45th anniversary screenings in SoCal, which is about as many as the restored version, the only one with any moral right to exist, has gotten in 20 years. Once you see where stuff has been cut and how that cutting created continuity errors and loose ends, you can't unsee it. Why should we be forced to? Normally a repertory screening of this film is a cause for celebration, but not only will I not be at these screenings, I told them why on Twitter at @elcapitan. I told them that my boyfriend and I would gladly have made the trip down for the uncut version. But for the short version? Nope. I saw it enough times already when that was the longest version that already existed, but if anything longer than that had existed, I would have watched that. Shorter is NOT better if it creates story problems that weren't there before.

  17. Product Detail

    Available to own 10/25/16.

    Includes a Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD of the movie.

    Temporary price reduction.

    Not eligible for additional discounts.

    It's not listed as an Exclusive

    The Most Recent DMC flyer confirms that the Bluray version of The Enchanted Christmas is exclusive to DMC The DVD at is at retailers

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