Once upon a time...a young woman named Belle happened upon a castle and was imprisoned by the Beast who lived there. Yet, Beauty and the Beast soon fell in love, and it is her love that could break the spell that had been cast upon the Beast and his castle. "Beauty And The Beast" was the first animated motion picture to be nominated for Best Picture by the Motion Picture Academy. The first two-disc "experiential" DVD set included the new 91-minute Special Edition originally prepared for IMAX and Large Format presentation and featured the newly-completed "Human Again" sequence deleted from the original release. The DVD also included the original 84-minute Oscar®-winning theatrical edition as well as the 84-minute Work-In-Progress cut shown at the 1991 New York Film Festival which features a mixture of completed scenes and rough pencil sketches and unfinished footage. This Blu-ray Disc Diamond Edition includes all three of the above versions of the classic (Work-In-Progress on DVD) plus the Original Theatrical Release with storyreel picture-in-picture. (Gary Reber)
Disc One is the DVD edition of the three versions. Once you pass the up-front ads on Blu-ray Disc™ Two, you will be able to select among three versions of the film: the Special Edition, the Original Theatrical Release, and the Original Theatrical Release with storyreel picture-in-picture. Special features on Disc One include a sing-along track with all your favorite songs, as the words pop up on the screen; commentary by Directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale, Producer Don Hahn, and Composer Alan Menken; and a tutorial on Blu-ray™ (SD 04:45). Disc Two special features include "Composing A Classic: A Musical Conversation With Alan Menken, Don Hahn, and Richard Kraft (HD 20:18); deleted scenes, including an introduction to an alternate story open by Peter Scheider (HD 0:32), an alternate story open (HD 18:24); an introduction to a deleted scene by Roger Allers (HD 0:36); "Belle In The Library" (HD 08:27), a family play section featuring "Broadway Beginnings" (HD 13:07); and a music video performed by Jordin Sparks (HD 03:26). Disc Three special features include the "Beyond Beauty: The Untold Stories Behind The Making Of Beauty And The Beast" interactive documentary (HD 51:00), including laugh-o-gram fairy tales: "Puss In Boots" (HD 10:56), "Little Red Riding Hood" (HD 06:18), "Cinderella" (HD 07:23), and "The Four Musicians Of Bremen" (HD 08:27). To guide you through the extensive special features, the package includes a Blu-ray Guide with a navigational overview. There is also BD-Live functionality.
The anamorphically enhanced 1.85:1 DVD reviewed in Issue 66 exhibited a lovely animated picture for the theatrical and special editions, with sharp and detailed images and excellent dimension. Colors were rich and vibrant, with full saturation and deep blacks. Despite slight edge enhancement noticed around images at times, this was a very nicely rendered DVD. The Work In Progress version was a mix of both near-final animation and raw sketches and layering. This version was full of dirt and artifacts but looked the way it was intended to. This newly remastered high-definition transfer release in the 1080p AVC format on Blu-ray Disc is absolutely wonderful, with a gorgeously beautiful picture. The clarity and sharpness is stunning and perfectly resolves the gorgeous storybook animation. The color palette is warm, with rich and vibrant hues that add character to the animation. Every nuance and subtle brush stroke is revealed. The transfers are evident of great care in their reproduction and the love for the moving art depicted. Blacks are impressively deep and solid, and the imagery is dimensional as well. The Blu-ray delivery cannot be equaled by the DVDs, past and present. The picture is absolutely pristine. This is simply a beautiful visual experience that is to be cherished. (Gary Reber)
The previous DVD reviewed in Issue 66 featured a new remastered Dolby® Digital 5.1-channel soundtrack, and the result was a lively soundstage presentation. In the presence of the music, the soundfield was abundantly active with prominent surround activity, though, with limited stereo separation. The fidelity was somewhat dated and was noticeable, especially with the dialogue. Still, voices sounded distinctively clear and nicely recorded. There was also quite a notable low-end, both with music and effects, the latter with some instances of .1 LFE content. The winning factor with the soundtrack was the music, with its substantially expansive, engulfing presence. The remastered 7.1-channel DTS-HD Master Audio™ lossless soundtrack is magically more revealing, especially in terms of fidelity and low-level subtle sound effects and ambiance. Furthermore, directionality is dramatic, both with respect to sound effects and the music score. The orchestral music is particularly revealing of instrument timbres and spatial delineation, with a wide and deep soundstage that extends to the surrounds, for an enhanced holosonic® experience. Alan Menken's music itself is simply wonderful, and Howard Ashman's lyrics are perfectly clear and effectively projected. Dialogue is perfectly intelligible and perfectly integrated spatially with a nice dimensional presence. This is remarkable for ADR production. The surrounds are quite active, with an aggressive directional presence that heightens the sense of soundfield depth and dimension. The low-frequency foundation is solid and well balanced, with .1 LFE extending at times to below 20 Hz. Such adds authority to the Beast's voice and growl. The added two channels are positioned to the 90-degree side positions and optimized as to the recommendations preferred by Dolby® and DTS®, relative to the sweet spot listening position. The spatial soundfield result is impressive, far more dimensional than just reproducing the soundtrack on a 5.1-channel system. This is a marvelous sonic achievement with a truly high-fidelity presence that is sure to enthrall. (Gary Reber)