From its beautiful backgrounds to its touching romance to its music, I argue that Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is the finest of the Disney animated movies, and that goes beyond that fact that Beast, the male lead, enjoys more screen time and development than any other Disney hero in a princess movie before its time and perhaps since.
I first saw this in the theater as a small child only barely able to grasp the romantic storyline. It enchanted me then, and it enchants me still. The themes of true beauty, sacrifice, goodness within a monstrous guise, and the meaning of true love often bloom in my own writing. But they are powerful and universal and helped to make the film such a glorious story.
The Little Mermaid did wonderful things with its heroine, Ariel, giving her opportunity to grow and make a significant difference n her own life. Eric, the hero, also enjoyed a personality more vivid than most of his princely predecessors, with Philip from Sleeping Beauty his main rival. But there was something special about Beast. Perhaps it was the nature of the story or the beauty of its introductory language or something too elusive to fully describe, but we saw deeper into Beast’s soul than any other Disney hero. From his quadrupedal pacing to the anguish and disgust in his face when he frightens Belle from his room, from the joy when the bird hops into his hand to the roar of loss that follows Belle when he at last allows her to leave, we see and experience a character of great depth, passion, and pain, a character that is perhaps more real than any of his other princely peers despite his more fantastical nature.
My only real complaint about the movie is that, in the end when Beast turns human, he loses a lot of that body language and depth. It lessens him. While I wanted his and Belle’s happily ever after, I like Beast better in his monstrous form.
What is your favorite Disney film?