×

Beauty and the Beast: Special Edition

Quite literally bigger and better than ever, "Beauty and the Beast" will doubtless enchant a new generation of moviegoers, and many who want to see it again and again, in a newly reformatted "Special Edition" suitable for screening at Imax theaters and other large-screen venues.

With:
Voices: Page O'Hara - Belle
Robby Benson - Beast
Richard White - Gaston
Jerry Orbach - Lumiere
David Ogden Stiers - Cogsworth
Angela Lansbury - Mrs. Potts
Bradley Michael - Pierce Chip
Rex Everhart - Maurice
Jesse Corti - Lefou
Hal Smith - Philippe
Joe Anne Worley - Wardrobe

Quite literally bigger and better than ever, “Beauty and the Beast” will doubtless enchant a new generation of moviegoers, and many who want to see it again and again, in a newly reformatted “Special Edition” suitable for screening at Imax theaters and other large-screen venues.

But size isn’t the only thing that matters in this new version prepared for animated classic’s 10th anniversary reissue. Taking their cue from George Lucas, Francis Coppola and other auteurs with the muscle to revise and reconstitute their masterworks, directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise have included a brand-new sequence to showcase “Human Again,” a rousing production number by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman.

Tune had been written by pair as part of the original Oscar-winning 1991 score — and later popped up in the smash-hit, Disney-produced legit version of “Beauty and the Beast” — but didn’t make the cut for the animated production. Until now.

Trousdale and Kirk reassembled most of the original pic’s animators and vocal talents for the six-minute sequence, a festive show-stopper that spotlights the enchanted servants who have been turned into anthropomorphic household objects.

Chief among the all-talking, all-singing supporting players: Mrs. Potts (voiced by Angela Lansbury), a proper British teapot; Cogsworth (David Ogden Stiers), a fastidious mantel clock who’s frequently overwrought and tightly wound; Lumiere (Jerry Orbach), a dapper candelabra with the panache and singing style of Maurice Chevalier; and Wardrobe (Jo Anne Worley), a massive dresser stocked with attire altogether worthy of a fairy-tale heroine.

New sequence blends seamlessly with original footage, which has been grandly restored and enhanced for “Special Edition.” Pic overall appears slightly brighter and cheerier than original 1991 version, which tended to emphasize a darker, brownish-gray color scheme. Even so, a few suspenseful scenes — including a rescue from hungry wolves and a confrontation with an angry mob — are as intense as ever. Magnified in large-screen format, the images may cause some toddlers in the audience to huddle even closer to their parents.

In terms of animation, “Beauty and the Beast” remains a uniquely elegant and entertaining mix of hand-drawn classicism and high-tech innovation. (Speaking of the latter: One of the original’s most magical sequences, the computer-generated ballroom dance to the title song, is nothing short of stunning in large screen.) The Ashman and Menken score –justly praised by many critics back in 1991 as superior to anything heard on Broadway in decades — has lost none of its capacity to delight.

On a second (or third, or fourth) viewing, however, one better appreciates the importance of Linda Woolverton’s cleverly revisionist screenplay as a key to pic’s enduring popularity. Script positions familiar fairy-tale plot in an 18th century French village, but gives it a distinctly feminist edge.

Belle (sweetly voiced by Paige O’Hara) is a brainy, book-loving beauty who’s considered an oddball eccentric by her neighbors. The local Prince Charming, the self-aggrandizing Gaston (Richard White), is a lunkhead hunk who takes a dim view of bright women. “It’s not right for a woman to read,” he proclaims. “Pretty soon, she starts thinking and getting ideas.”

The good news is, there’s a liberated guy in a nearby castle who thinks Belle is just swell as she is. He’s even willing to give her full use of his immense library. The bad news is, this guy is the Beast (Robby Benson), a once-handsome nobleman who’s now an accursed recluse, doomed to remain in monstrous form until he finds true love.

“Beauty and the Beast: Special Edition” should earn a princely sum in large-screen houses. And even though the 1991 original has long been available on homevideo, revised pic should do well during subsequent bookings in standard-size venues. DVD and VHS biz will be, well, beautiful.

Popular on Variety

Beauty and the Beast: Special Edition

Production: A Buena Vista release of a Walt Disney Pictures production. Produced by Don Hahn. Executive producer, Howard Ashman. Directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise. Screenplay, Linda Woolverton.

Crew: Art directors, Brian McEntee, Edward L. Ghertner (large format version); editors, John Carnochan, Ellen Keneshea (large format version); music, Alan Menken;songs, Howard Ashman, Menken; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS/SDDS), Ariel Shaw. Reviewed at Edwards Marq*e Cinema, Houston, Dec. 29. 2001. MPAA Rating: G. Running time: 89 MIN.

With: Voices: Page O'Hara - Belle
Robby Benson - Beast
Richard White - Gaston
Jerry Orbach - Lumiere
David Ogden Stiers - Cogsworth
Angela Lansbury - Mrs. Potts
Bradley Michael - Pierce Chip
Rex Everhart - Maurice
Jesse Corti - Lefou
Hal Smith - Philippe
Joe Anne Worley - Wardrobe

More Film

  • Global Screen Nabs ‘Amazing Maurice,’ Based

    Global Screen Picks Up ‘The Amazing Maurice,’ Based on Terry Pratchett’s Novel (EXCLUSIVE)

    Global Screen has picked up worldwide distribution rights, excluding North America, the U.K. and German-speaking territories, to the English-language animated feature “The Amazing Maurice,” based on a Terry Pratchett novel. The screenplay has been written by Terry Rossio, Oscar-nominated for “Shrek.” Rossio’s credits also include the animated movie “Aladdin” and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” [...]

  • Yoji Yamada-directed film is to open

    Tokyo Market: Shochiku Launches Horror, Comedy and Mystery Lineup

    Major Japanese studio, Shochiku has the honor of leading off next week’s Tokyo International Film Festival with its “Tora-san, Wish You Were Here.” The film is a revival of a beloved in-house drama franchise, directed by veteran Yoji Yamada, that is set as the event’s opening night gala presentation. Before that, the company has the [...]

  • The Truth

    Singapore Festival to Focus on Asian Excellence for 30th Edition

    For its 30th edition the Singapore International Film Festival has avoided programming novelty and instead focused on assembling excellence – mostly indie titles — from Asia and further afield. The festival, which previously announced local filmmaker Anthony Chen’s second feature “Wet Season” as its opening night gala presentation, announced the balance of its programming on [...]

  • Isabela Moner Dora the Explorer

    Film News Roundup: Isabela Merced Boards Jason Momoa's 'Sweet Girl' for Netflix

    In today’s film news roundup, Isabela Merced get cast opposite Jason Momoa, “Starbright” gets financing and AFM announces its speakers. CASTING Isabela Merced, formerly Isabela Moner, has come on board to portray the daughter of Jason Momoa in his upcoming revenge thriller “Sweet Girl” for Netflix. Momoa will play a devastated man who vows to [...]

  • Walt Disney HQ LA

    Disney Seeks to Throw Out Gender Pay Gap Lawsuit

    The Walt Disney Co. is seeking to throw out a lawsuit alleging that women employees are paid less than men, arguing that the suit is too sprawling and unwieldy to handle as a class action. Andrus Anderson LLP filed the suit in April, alleging that Disney’s hiring and pay practices have a discriminatory effect on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content