I absolutely adore this film for so many reasons but one of them is the immensely likeable cast. Belle is the perfect leading female for this film, and like all Disney 'princesses', she is gorgeous, has a wonderful singing voice, and is destined to live happily ever after! Paige O'Hara voices the character perfectly, from her rich speaking voice full of emotion, to that gorgeous singing voice which captures the innocence of Belle so well, and is now one of the iconic female Disney voices. There's nothing dislikeable about Belle, she's simply perfect and we love her all the more for it. In turn, Robby Benson voices the Beast, and his gruffness works so well with the softness of Belle, and he has a lovely singing voice too in 'Something There'. The fabulous Jerry Orbach voices the candlestick Lumiere, one of my favourite characters in the film, and is cast alongside the amazing Angela Lansbury as Mrs Potts... you'd know that voice anywhere, and she seems perfectly cast as the caring housekeeper-turned-teapot! Each of the cast take their turns in singing roles, and it all comes together to create one of the best Disney soundtracks.
One great thing about this film is that there is no complicated meaning to find within it, it's just simply about teaching us that love can prevail when you look beyond the other person's appearance, as Belle is able to for the Beast. Beast is convinced that he is unloveable, and as such treats those around him disrespectfully and rudely. Belle is able to show him the error of his ways and through her attitude and friendliness is able to turn him around and show the gentle, loving side she knows is there. It's a tale of true love, and is extremely emotional to watch, even for an animated film. The gentle scenes involving Belle and Beast are so sweet, with the music accompanying them perfectly, and it is a joy to watch from start to finish. Yes, it's convenient that they start off hating each other and it turns to love, but that is part of the magic of Disney for me! Beast's lesson of learning to change for love is an important one - changing for the better, and as Mrs Potts sings... 'bittersweet and strange, finding you can change, learning you were wrong' - I'm sure we could all take something away from that line.
The songs in this film are just magical, and it won't take long for them to be embedded in your musical memory forever! I found myself singing along quietly in the cinema while the main songs in the film played, and I loved them just as much now as I did as a young girl. The movie opens with the brilliant 'Belle', a fairly long musical number introducing us to Belle, Gaston and her village. It's such a happy song, and very iconic for the movie. The wonderful 'Something There' is a duet between Belle and the Beast, with other singing by Lumiere, Cogsworth and Mrs Potts, I particularly love the sequence in the movie for this song, it really shows the change in relationship for these characters. My favourite song, and favourite scene in the whole movie is the absolutely perfect 'Beauty and the Beast', sang beautifully by Angela Lansbury (Mrs Potts). The moment those infamous piano chords hit and Belle emerges in the iconic yellow dress... wow, that is movie history right there, and the audible of the little girls in the audience just made it all the more precious. 'Be Our Guest' is the most uptempo of the numbers, involving the enchanted household objects, and is so wonderful to watch on-screen, full of action, colour and is mesmerising for young children and adults alike... try to avoid singing along to that one!
The animation in the film was flawless, and both Harry and I really enjoyed watching the whole thing. It is the traditional style Disney animation, rather than the CGI of their more modern releases 'Tangled' and 'Cars', but it's perfect as it is. Harry had reservations that it was a film for girls, but afterwards told me he loved the Beast and how Belle fell in love with him at the end. Everything about this film comes together to create a cinematic masterpiece, and became the first animated movie to nominated for the Best Picture Oscar... rightfully so too. There's something magical about watching the beautiful girl fall in love with the Beast, and the magic surrounding them both... no matter how old you, you can't fail to be moved by the movie, especially that tear-jerker of an ending. Every little girl will want to be Belle after watching this, and I could watch that famous ballroom scene again and again. I loved everything about this movie, and the fact it is still so popular 22 years after it's release speaks volumes - amazing Disney at it's best.