Disney's 1991 animated classic Beauty And The Beast begins with... 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 Disney classic has been rejuvenated with 3D and a polished treatment. The release includes a little extra dialogue (principally Belle reading to the Beast from "Romeo And Juliet") and one deleted song, "Human Again." The animation itself is an impeccable mixture of predominately traditional hand-drawn cel character drawing and modern computer-generated backgrounds using CAPS (Computer Animation Production System), which allowed animators to simulate multiplane effects and stage sequences with depth. The 3-D treatment actually opens up the picture for new discovery within the frame of its carefully-constructed production design to reveal nuanced details. The 2-D version is identical to the previously released Diamond Edition and, as with that release, this release includes 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)
Special features on the Blu-ray Disc of the movie include the following under "Backstage Disney: Diamond Edition": "Composing A Classic: A Musical Conversation With Alan Menken, Don Hahn, and Richard Kraft" (HD 20:18) and the following under "Deleted Scenes": an introduction to the alternate story open by Peter Schneider (SD 00:32), the alternate story open (SD 18:24), an introduction to a deleted scene by Roger Allers (SD 00:36), and the "Belle In The Library" storyboard where Belle meets four new characters in the library (SD 08:27); the following under "Family Play": "Broadway Beginnings" (HD 13:07) and the "Beauty And The Beast" music video by Jordin Sparks (HD 03:26); sneak peeks; BD-Live; and up-front ads. Special features on the Bonus Materials Blu-ray Disc include the following under "Backstage Disney: Diamond Edition": the interactive "Beyond Beauty: The Untold Stories Behind The Making Of 'Beauty And The Beast'"; the following under "Family Play": "Enchanted Musical Challenge" Disney Quest Game and "Bonjour, Who Is This?" BD-Live Disney TelePlay game; and under "Classic DVD Features": The Story Behind The Story (HD 25:41), the "Beauty And The Beast" music video performed by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson (HD 04:31), an early presentation reel (SD 02:51), an alternate version: "Be Our Guest" (SD 04:55), an alternate score: "The Transformation" (SD 02:01), a deleted song "Human Again" (SD 06:58) with introductions by Don Hahn and by Alan Menken, "Animation Tests, Roughs & Clean Ups" (SD 04:54), "The Transformation: Pencil Version" (SD 05:24), "A Transformation: Glen Keane" (SD 03:13); a "Camera Move Test" (SD 02:06), two trailers with an optional introduction by Hahn, and four TV spots; sneak peeks; and BD-Live. The five-disc set includes the 3-D version, the Blu-ray, a bonus material disc, the DVD, and a digital copy of the film.
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. The newly re-mastered high-definition transfer released in the 1080p AVC format on Blu-ray Disc and reviewed in Issue 151 was absolutely wonderful, with a gorgeously beautiful picture. The clarity and sharpness was stunning and perfectly resolved the gorgeous storybook animation. The color palette was warm, with rich and vibrant hues that added character to the animation. Every nuance and subtle brush stroke was revealed. The transfers were evident of great care in their reproduction and the love for the moving art depicted. Blacks were impressively deep and solid, and the imagery was dimensional as well. The Blu-ray delivery could not be equaled by the DVDs, past and present. The picture was absolutely pristine. This was simply a beautiful visual experience to be cherished. Ditto the above attributes with respect to the new 3-D Blu-ray Disc release in the 1080p MVC format. Picture quality is absolutely stunning! The 3-D treatment dramatically enhances the perception of depth, which after all, is the essence of 3D! Remarkably, the complex design and set layout of the original film translates extremely well to 3D and exhibits layer upon layer of differing planes of focus. Every detail and nuanced dimension is exquisitely and impressively rendered. There is never a sense of the film's age, as the 3-D treatment results in a wonderfully fresh visual experience. There are virtually no negative parallax "out-of-screen" moments, with the 3-D effect rendered to provide a whole new immersive dimension. Exceptional depth segments can be seen in the "Belle" and "Gaston" featured sequences, and the ballroom dance sequence, as well as many scenes that provide immersive perspective. Viewers will be enthralled with the numerous sequences that simply look amazing in 3D. Crosstalk ghosting artifacts are virtually non-existent, for a pristine 3-D visual experience. With a thrilling and proficient 3-D treatment, the film is even more touching and entertaining than the original. (Gary Reber)
The DVD reviewed in Issue 66 featured a new re-mastered 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 re-mastered 7.1-channel DTS-HD Master Audio™ lossless soundtrack on this new 3-D Blu-ray Disc release is the same as that reviewed in Issue 151. The 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)