Blu-ray
Must Own
5 stars
Amazon
$75.49
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»
Overall Grade
5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
5 Stars
HD Video Quality
5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
5 Stars
Supplements
3.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
4 Stars
Bottom Line
Must Own

Beauty and the Beast (Diamond Edition)

Street Date:
October 5th, 2010
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
September 27th, 2010
Movie Release Year:
1991
Studio:
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Length:
89 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated G
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

There's something about 'Beauty and the Beast' that resonates deep inside. It transcends children's animation and becomes something much more. When I think 'Beauty and the Beast' I immediately think of Disney. It's a connection that has become synonymous.

'Beauty and the Beast' is full of excitement, an enthralling story, and some of the most memorable musical numbers to ever grace the big screen. There isn't a song on 'Beauty and the Beast' that can possibly be ignored. Each one demands your attention as they shower you with nostalgic memories of Disney's hand drawn animation heyday.

Because he refused to give refuge to a haggard-looking woman, a young prince has been cursed, transformed into a hideous beast, and his entire staff of servants changed into living inanimate objects, like clocks and candlesticks. Like many of these stories go, the curse can only be broken by true love.

Belle is a beautiful young girl who lives in the neighboring town. She loves reading, breaks into song on a moment's notice, and lives with her kooky father Maurice. Belle is a curious creature, and has her head on straight when it comes to life. The town macho, Gaston, has his eye on her. Gaston boasts about how many eggs he eats everyday and how accurate his spitting is. He's a man's man. Only a manly man would use antlers in all of his decorating. Gaston is sure that Belle is going to marry him, who wouldn't want to marry him? He's the finest male specimen around.

Belle's father Maurice is an inventor, and on his way to a fair to show off his new invention he gets lost and finds himself at the steps of a strange castle (it's interesting that this castle has been there for sometime, and the townspeople are only now realizing it). Maurice is imprisoned by the beast. Once Belle realizes he's missing, she goes out looking for him, finds the castle, and trades herself for her father's life.

We know what must happen from here. Belle must embark on the seemingly impossible quest of loving a beast. But compared to Gaston, the beast is a catch.

In a day and age when computer animation is all the rage, it's amazing to revisit 'Beauty and the Beast' and see just how beautiful hand drawn animation can be. The animation here is some of the most colorful and lively in all of Disney's long line of animated features. The music, created by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken (the same duo that worked together on 'The Little Mermaid'), has not only stayed in our minds ever since we first saw the movie (To this day, "Be Our Guest" still pops up in my head continually.), but they have sunk into popular culture.

Nowadays, with the ten Best Picture slots at the Oscars, it's much easier for animated films to find their way into the awards picture. Back when 'Beauty and the Beast' was made, it was unthinkable that a children's animated feature could be nominated for Best Picture. It went up against movies like 'JFK,' and that year's winner 'Silence of the Lambs.'

'Beauty and the Beast' is a classic fairy tale, and with Disney's touch, it has become one of the most memorable and influential animated features of all time.

The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

The movie comes with two BD-50s. One houses the feature while the other houses most of the special features.

The special menu is a fun addition. It takes you on a tour through the castle, and also suggests special features for you to watch, which was nice. Lumiere talks to you as he guides you through the menu. There was a lot of time spent creating this menu, and you'll want to watch it all the way through.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

Tremendous, fantastic, awe-inspiring, beautiful… I think I could just sit here with a thesaurus open for the rest of this video portion using ever synonym of "amazing" that I can find. Disney's 1080p transfer of their classic film looks absolutely magnificent in every conceivable way.

According to the pamphlet insert, when Disney went back and reexamined the film's master elements, they found that they were covered with "white dirt and water spots," but on previous standard definition releases these defects weren't visible. In order to create a pristine transfer, Disney had to go through "extensive spotting sessions with the film's creators" and restore the elements in order to make them high definition worthy.

All that care and meticulous pampering pays off in a big way. You can tell the folks at Disney took their time on this to get it just right, because this literally looks like it was drawn yesterday. In a word, it's majestic.

Throughout its entire runtime, not once did I notice a speck of white dirt, or a fleck of source noise. It's as clean as a high definition image can get. No banding, blocking, ghosting, or any other anomalies that might hinder your viewing experience. Colors are the definition of vibrant. They burst off the screen with life. The computer animation that was used for the ballroom has never looked better either. Although, by today's standards the animation does look a tad dated, it still looks amazing as the Beast and Belle dance slowly around the room. Detail is so fine that you can see hesitations in the lines that create the characters, and I even noticed on a couple of occasions a few instances where the coloring of objects crept ever-so-slightly over the bordering lines. The richness of Disney's hand drawn animation shines through in a magnificent way. Belle's famous golden gown is a sight to behold. It's never been seen in such clarity before. Just one of the many treats that lay in wait for you to discover during this amazing presentation.

Darker scenes fair just as well, the shadows are perfectly cast. Contrast works wonders during the scene in which the Beast bargains with Belle in the dungeon for her father's life.

It's hard to wait so long for our favorite Disney releases on Blu-ray, but it's worth it if they're all going to be treated with this much care and attention to detail. High definition catalog titles don't get much better looking than this.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

Referring again to the pamphlet, Disney also went back to the source with original sound mixer Terry Porter, who was nominated for Best Sound in 1999, and created an all new 7.1 mix. After creating a 7.1 mix for the originally mono-track 'Snow White' and making it sound superb, I had no reservations that Disney would be able to take 'Beauty and the Beast' and remix it to perfection. In short, they have.

I can't think of a movie in Disney's library that could benefit more from a 7.1 mix than 'Beauty and the Beast.' There's so much going on, and the musical numbers alone demand a mix that can support their sheer size and spectacle.

Dialogue is spread throughout the front part of the soundfield, even finding its way into the side speakers for some stellar directionality that caused me to turn my head more than once. The Beast's voice is full of LFE, and the sub gets a heavy workout during his numerous yells and roars. Frankly, it's so deep and resonant, it's what I imagine 'Jurassic Park's T-Rex sounding like in high-def (if it gets a Blu-ray release). The rear of the soundfield is almost just as busy as the front. There isn't a time where the rears aren't at the least engaged. The musical numbers bring the surround sound to life as the characters sing and dance, engulfing you in the movie.

Sound effects are pristine, pans sound perfect. This is one of the best high definition sound presentations of the year, if not the best. Everything from the crystal clear dialogue and song lyrics to the chaotic cacophony of sounds that accompany the great battle scene at the end are perfectly remixed to give us the most wondrous sound design 'Beauty and the Beast' has ever enjoyed on home video.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

Disney makes an effort to not only produce a variety of new special features, but they've also ported over all the original bonus features from the previous DVD release. These can be found under the heading Classic Bonus Features.

  • Original Theatrical Release (HD, 85 min.) – This is being included in the special features, because there are a few versions of the film you can watch. This is how the movie originally appeared in theaters when it was first released.
  • Special Extended Edition (HD, 92 min.) – The biggest, and most notable, change to the movie here is the addition of the originally cut musical number called "Human Again." It has been seamlessly inserted into the film.
  • Original Storyboard Version (HD, 85 min.) – Producer Don Hahn accompanies a picture-in-picture track that runs alongside the theatrical version. Hahn discusses how the movie progressed from storyboards to the final product and the project as a whole.
  • Audio Commentary – The audio commentary is available on the Special Extended Edition of the movie. The commentators include Hahn, and co-directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale. The three of them discuss where 'Beauty and the Beast' belongs in Disney's illustrious animation history. They talk about the history of the movie, the original fairy tale, and how they changed it. They discuss the, at that time, state-of-the-art animation techniques they used for some of the scenes, especially the ballroom scene. Basically, everything you wanted to know about the evolution of Disney's 'Beauty and the Beast,' its filming, animation, and vocal talents can be heard here. It's one of the better audio commentaries out there. Never does it feel dry or mundane. These guys get down to business and discuss everything you could hope to be discussed about the movie.
  • Sing-Along Mode (HD) – Sing along with the famous soundtrack when the musical numbers start.

Classic Bonus Features

  • The Story Behind The Story (SD, 25 min.) – Takes a look at several original fairy tales and what was done to them in order to turn them into Disney animated features.
  • 'Beauty and the Beast' Music Video (SD, 3 min.) – Ya gotta have a music video with a Disney release. Celine Dion performs.
  • Early Presentation Reel (SD, 35 min.) – Hahn and Menken discuss an alternate version of "Be Our Guest," they talk about the deleted musical number "Human Again," and discuss the alternate score that was considered for the transformation scene. A collection of rough animation tests is included, along with a camera move test.
  • Sneak Peeks (HD, 15 min.) – Trailers for the Blu-ray releases of 'Bambi,' 'The Lion King,' 'Toy Story 3,' 'Alice in Wonderland: Special 60th Anniversary Edition,' and 'Fantasia/Fantasia 2000' are included.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

Backstage Disney

  • Beyond Beauty (HD, 157 min.) – An extensive, exhaustive, and entertaining look at everything you'd want to know behind the scenes of 'Beauty and the Beast.' This interactive feature lets you explore further as icons appear on the screen. To activate them just hit enter on your remote. While it can get a bit confusing as to where you are, everything contained in this lovingly put together feature is interesting, though-provoking, and all together exciting. If you do get lost, like I found myself doing a couple of times, there is a menu that keeps track of all the sub-scenes you missed and the ones you watched so you can go back and select the ones that you may have missed.
  • Composing a Classic (HD, 20 min.) – Hahn, composer Alan Menken, and Disney historian Richard Kraft talk about the original music created for the movie and its timelessness. They also talk about how music is a perfect way to tell a story, and how Disney uses it as a staple in most every hand drawn animated feature they make.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 28 min.) – Disney chairperson Peter Schneider gives two introductions to the two deleted scenes contained here. It's a little annoying that the deleted scene section doesn't have a Play All button, because you have to play the introduction and then it goes back to the menu so you can select the actual scene. That was a bit cumbersome. The two deleted scenes include an alternate opening to the movie, that would have changed the movie completely. It's about twenty-minutes long and presented through storyboards. The other deleted scene features Belle exploring the Beast's library and meeting four other, until know, unknown characters. I for one am glad that this was cut from the film. It felt cheap and too slapsticky for the rest of the movie.

Disney Family Play

  • Broadway Beginnings (HD, 13 min.) – Pretty much an extended advertisement for the Broadway adaption of the movie.
  • Enchanted Musical Challenge (HD) – An interactive game that consists of searching the castle and answering trivia about the movie.
  • Bonjour, Who Is This? (HD) – An interactive game that can have anywhere between 2 – 8 players. This game requires players to use home or cell phones to play. It's a weird and awkward way to play a game.
  • New 'Beauty and the Beast' Music Video (HD, 3 min.) – Bet you thought that there wouldn't be another music video tacked on, but there is!! Jordan Sparks performs.

Final Thoughts

Seeing the time and effort Disney spends on its Blu-ray releases makes it easy for me to have to wait so long between titles. Their catalog is slowly being released, and because they're taking their time, the films are coming out perfectly. 'Beauty and the Beast' is a stunning audio and visual feast in high-definition. Hand drawn animation was meant to be shown in HD. The colors jump off the screen and the all-new 7.1 remix of the sound engulfs you like never before. 'Beauty and the Beast' is one of my favorite Disney films and to see it treated with such care makes me excited for the rest of the Disney catalog that will be released in the years to come. This is one of the best catalog releases of the year, and comes as Must Own for any Blu-ray collection.

Technical Specs

  • Diamond Collection
  • BD/DVD Combo

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.78:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 Surround Sound
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (DEHT)
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1 (DEHT)

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH, Spanish

Supplements

  • Never-before-seen alternate opening
  • Deleted scenes
  • Beyond Beauty
  • Broadway Beginnings
  • Composing a Classic
  • Music video

Exclusive HD Content

  • Enchanted Musical Challenge
  • Bonjour, Who Is This?

All disc reviews at High-Def Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about our gear.

Puzzled by the technical jargon in our reviews, or wondering how we assess and rate HD DVD and Blu-ray discs? Learn about our review methodology.

Amazon
$75.49
Usually ships in 24 hours Buy Now»