Back Comments (4) Share:
Facebook Button
Note: I have such a build up of review copies I’m actually going to take the single paragraph route with some of the latest releases in order to catch up. Thanks for understanding.

Feature


One of the Crown Jewels of the second ‘golden age’ of Disney animation, Beauty and the Beast didn’t save the studio like The Little Mermaid, and it wasn’t quite the phenomenon Aladdin and The Lion King were at the box office, but it was nominated for best picture at the Oscars. I was personally in High School by the time the film was released, so wasn’t immediately on the bandwagon, and still slightly prefer the even darker Hunchback of Notre Dame, but there’s also no denying the beauty and artistry of the Oscar committee’s choice. The mix of gothic and Baroque imagery still takes one’s breath away at some points of the film, even if the finer character animation has started to show its age in a few scenes (the final battle has some sketchy bits set at the wrong angle).

Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition

Video


Holy cow is this a sharp 1080p image. Were it not for the positively perfect in every way Sleeping Beauty disc this might be the Blu-ray achievement for the studio. The clarity is alarming at some points, revealing new depth of field never before available on home video. The colours are vibrant, and run a large gamut from moody purples and blues, to bright blues and golds. The colour elements are sharply separated even in the out of focus backgrounds, feature no digital blocking, and the foreground character lines feature no noticeable edge enhancement. The big musical moments are among the most impressive, but I was also very fond of the climatic fight, which features rich shadows, and the pointed brightness of the lightning.

Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition

Audio


Big, brash musicals are made for the DTS-HD Master Audio format, and this disc lets it rip where needed. The songs are crisp, warm, and incredibly strong. It’s easy to make out single instruments, and the stereo and surround channels are lively with sharp little supporting items. ‘Kill the Beast’ is probably the most impressive among the songs in the realms of uncompressed aural oomph. Other big audio moments include the action scenes, such as the wolf fight, which zips around the viewer with generally vicious sounding beasts, and the climax, with all it’s thunder, lightning, rain, and manly men (or beasts) doing battle.

Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition

Extras


Besides including the special edition the original cut is also included with a story reel PiP option. Disc one featurettes start with ‘Composing a Classic’ (HD, 20:20), look at the production of the film’s Oscar winning music with the producer/director’s and co-composer Alan Menken. The commentators go through each song, including the deleted scene and cover co-composer/lyricist Howard Ashman death after production. ‘Broadway Beginnings’ (HD, 13:10) covers the debut of the original theatrical, live-action version, with face interviews with those involved, all telling their little stories. The disc also includes a series of three deleted and alternate scenes with introduction (HD), mostly in story reel form, and Disney trailers.

Disc two starts with ‘Beyond Beauty’, a multi part documentary on the making of the film. It’s technically interactive, but I prefer the index to get things done. This starts with ‘Act I: Beyond Beauty) (HD, 7:00), covering all the changes at the studio that led to the film. ‘Disney: A Fairy Tale (HD, 8:00) is a general look at the history of fairy tales with the studio from Walt’s age to the present. ‘Laugh-O-Gram Fairy Tales’ is a collection of four old school Disney shorts, including ‘Puss in Boots’, ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, ‘Cinderella’ and ‘The Four Musicians of Bremen’, all presented in HD video. ‘Act II: Struggling with the Beast’ (HD, 9:20) continues the basic making-of feature, and covers some of growing pains, including some great home movies. ‘’Full Circle to Broadway’ (HD, 10:00) discusses the studio’s musical formulas, and writing music for Beauty and the Beast, which found its way to Broadway. ‘The Purdum Reel’ (HD, 19:00) is a look at the original treatment, set as a highly detailed story-reel.

Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition
‘Act III: Something’s There’ (HD, 15:00) discusses re-structuring the film after a year of production. ‘Ever a Surprise: A Portrait of Howard Ashman (13:30) is exactly what the title says it is, and covers the work of the songwriter who died of AIDS before the film’s releases. This section also features three deleted/alternate scenes. ‘Act IV: Casting a Spell’ (HD, 5:50) discusses the Disney animation lineage. ‘Act V: A Fairy-Tale Ending’ (HD, 12:30) covers publicity, merchandising, and reception. ‘Frame by Frame: A Thumbnail Sketch of the History of Animation’ (HD, 14:00) traces the format pretty far back via Walt himself, and the archive footage is fascinating, but mostly it’s another way to praise the studio. ‘Act VI: The Classic Beauty’ (HD, 4:00) is a catchall wrap up with all the participants. The new stuff also includes storyboard, background, visual development and character design galleries, and character development and ‘cartoons’ (Silly Symphony’s in HD) video galleries.

The disc also features the original DVD extras which include ‘The Story Behind the Story’, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ music video, and early presentation reel, alternate versions of songs, a deleted song, camera tests and trailers – all stuff you’re going to get out of the new extras, in a better format.

Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition

Overall


One of the most sought after films since Blu-ray started has been released, and Disney has pulled no punches with the A/V, stopping just short of their on-your-knees perfection of the Sleeping Beauty release. The extras grow a bit old, but are all encompassing, and feature some high def prints of semi-pertinent classic Silly Symphony shorts, which is almost worth the price alone. We’re running out of classics with Dumbo, Lion King, and Fantasia on the horizon, it looks like we’re going to have to delve back into those capable Special Edition Jungle Book and 101 Dalmatians discs, though the sketchiness of those films might not work so well with HD video.

*Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray image quality


Links: