3 Things I learned about Beauty & the Beast on its 25th Anniversary
Last week, MacSparky and I were able to attend a special 25th Anniversary Beauty and the Beast event hosted at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. There was a fabulous panel prior to viewing the movie that consisted of the actors, artists, and production team involved in the 30th Disney Animated movie. Disney had given the Academy a 70mm original theatrical release print for their Academy Film Archive. So watching this particular film reel in a mixed audience of fans and film industry people made for a great evening.
In the 25 years since its release, much has been written this Oscar nominated film. It set the bar for many Disney films to follow. The computer-generated animation at this time was revolutionary. The characters and music have become classic favorites. After hearing from the panel and viewing the movie, there were 3 things that I learned about Beauty and the Beast.
1. Always start with a good story & create some memorable characters.
Beauty and the Beast was adapted from a French fairy tale. It took some time to get to the way they were going to re-tell this story with the Disney touch. The studio began with one idea, scratched it and then started again. Linda Woolverton was given credit for "Animation Screenplay" which was a new term/role for Disney. It is noteworthy that Beauty and the Beast was the first animated Disney movie to be scripted by a woman. The main characters were re-shaped little different than traditional fairy tales. Belle, the heroine was not looking for a prince and and she was also a bit older than Disney characters like Ariel or Snow White. The villain, Gaston, was a handsome fellow. The simple story of "don't judge a book by its cover" was brought to life through an endearing cast of characters.
2. The Broadway formula was brought to Disney films.
Disney actively brought the Broadway musical foundation to Disney movies. Howard Ashman was not only one of the composers of the well known Beauty and the Beast music, but also credited as an executive producer. Disney first brought Ashman in with The Little Mermaid and its success validated this new component to making Disney animated movies. Both Ashman and Alan Menken were instrumental in the storyboard process in order to integrate the music. The songs were interwoven into the story.
3. Beauty and the Beast pushed the edges of technology
During the making of Beauty and the Beast, the production team peaked into how technology and animation could live together. Walt Disney would have loved this challenge. IT is impressive at the Belle and Beast were not animated like ballroom scene. The video below is good footage of the production team explaining how they had to think of using technology in a Disney animated film.
The ballroom scene is an example of the beginning of the end of a traditional animated film. Once audiences could accept computer animation, things changed and they themselves became the disrupter to Disney animation.
The Academy filmed most of the panel discussions and you can view both official photos and videos HERE. Here are photos of the program that was distributed at this event.
Some final notes:
The event was billed under the Marc Davis Celebration of Animation. Not only was Marc Davis an active and respected member of the Academy but he is more familiar as a Disney Legend responsible the art concept of classic Disneyland Attractions like Pirates of the Caribbean. He is also credited for creating animated classic Disney characters like Tinkerbell and Malificent. His widow and also a Disney Legend, Alice Davis, was present in the audience at this event.
Howard Ashman was so very much involved in the entire process of Beauty and the Beast. I could hear the love and affection many of the panelists had for Ashman. He would not live to see the completion of the movie nor enjoy all the accolades and awards that Beauty and the Beast would earn.
I remember seeing this movie for the first time with MacSparky. I thought it was fitting to have a fun date night with him to once again see this classic Disney movie in a big theater. Our kids have only ever watched it on the television. 25 years goes fast. Beauty and the Beast is "a tale as old as time."