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This review copy arrived a couple of weeks after its release date, so I am recycling the super-short feature wrap-up from my review of the

Beauty & the Beast: Diamond Collection

Blu-ray release.


Feature


A bright and beautiful young woman named Belle (Paige O'Hara) is taken prisoner in a castle by a hideous beast (Robby Benson). Despite her precarious situation, Belle befriends the castle's enchanted staff – a teapot, a candelabra, and a mantel clock, among others – and ultimately learns to see beneath the Beast's exterior to discover the heart and soul of a prince. (From Disney’s official synopsis)

 Beauty & The Beast: Signature Edition
One of the Crown Jewels of the second ‘Golden Age’ of Disney animation, Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise’s Beauty and the Beast didn’t save the studio like The Little Mermaid and it wasn’t quite the box office phenomenon that Aladdin and The Lion King were, but it was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, which officially legitimized the artform in critical arenas. It remained the only animated movie nominated for the award until 2009, when the Academy switched to a ten-nominee system and Pete Docter’s Up scored a nod. While I don’t think the film has aged as well as that its nomination might imply (I still prefer the directing team’s 1996 follow-up, Hunchback of Notre Dame), but there’s no denying the beauty and artistry of the Academy’s choice. The stately music, the gothic and baroque style, and intricate, digitally-assisted animation are all hard to resist.

 Beauty & The Beast: Signature Edition

Video


From what I understand, Disney is not interested in rescanning/remastering any of their HD masters anytime soon, so this Signature Edition release (like the Sleeping Beauty and Snow White Signature Edition releases before it) features the same 1080p, 1.78:1 transfer as the Diamond Edition debut. Comparing the two discs directly, this one appears slightly more compressed to me, probably because there’s more stuff crammed onto this single-disc collection than the older two-disc Diamond release. The difference is so negligible that I didn’t bother including caps from both versions. Otherwise, this is a beautifully preserved and super vibrant transfer with minimal artefacts. I had wondered if perhaps the super-smooth gradation and slightly smudged ink edges (the celle colour oozes over them on occasion) were signs of DNR enhancement, as Disney is pretty famous for noise reduction excess. However, Beauty and the Beast was the second film (after Rescuers Down Under, 1990) made using the CAPS (Computer Animation Production System) digital scanning, ink, paint, and compositing system developed by Pixar. This means that the utter lack of film grain is, indeed, an accurate portrayal of the original materials – though the 100% digital production was still projected from a film source in 1991, so it may look cleaner than anyone who saw the film in theaters would remember. The palette is vibrant and encompasses a huge range of hues, from moody purples and reds, to bright blues and golds.

Audio


Again, this is essentially the same disc as the Diamond Edition release (minus extras). There are no notable differences between this DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack and the older one. The results are still fantastic – the dialogue is crisp, the singing voices are warm, and the environmental elements are lively. The music is the centerpiece, of course, and it’s easy to make out single instruments throughout the stereo and surround channels, even as they throb. “Kill the Beast” is probably the most impressive of the songs when it comes to uncompressed aural oomph. Other big audio moments include the action scenes, such as the wolf fight, which zips around the viewer with vicious growls and roars, and the climax, with all it’s thunder, lightning, rain, and manly men (or beasts) doing battle. I suppose this is a slight remix of the original 5.1 used for the 70mm releases and it would have been nice to have the option to listen to the film in its theatrical 2.0, but Disney is always careful to maintain the original sound design integrity when remixing these things.

 Beauty & The Beast: Signature Edition

Extras


  • Extended and sing-along versions of the film
  • Commentary with directors Kirk Wise & Gary Trousdale, producer Don Hahn, and composer Alan Menken – This is the only extra shared with the earlier releases (including the Platinum Edition DVD)
  • Always Belle (11:32, HD) – The original voice of Belle, Paige O’Hara, reminisces about her career, training, scoring the role of Belle, and the lasting impact of working on Beauty & the Beast.
  • Menken & Friends: 25 Years of Musical Inspiration (19:06, HD) – A roundtable discussion with Disney composers, including Alan Menken, Stephen Schwartz, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. They talk about their work, connections to each other, and pay homage to the music of Beauty & The Beast.
  • #1074: Walt, Fairy Tales & Beauty and the Beast (9:36, HD) – A look at Walt Disney’s early attempts at adapting Beauty & the Beast for film and television. It features loads of visual development illustrations and descriptions of the artists that had been involved.
  • The Recording Sessions (3:48, HD) – Behind-the-scenes footage from the original recording sessions.
  • 25 Fun Facts About Beauty and the Beast (5:24, HD) – Disney Channel’s Gus Kamp and Kayla Maisonet count down 25 Beauty & the Beast factoids and Easter eggs.
  • Beauty and The Beast sneak peek (1:24, HD) – An ad for the upcoming live-action re-telling.
  • Sing-along song selection option
  • Classic bonus preview – A trailer advertising online access (via the Disney Movies Anytime app) to the Platinum and Diamond Edition exclusive extras
  • Trailers for other Disney releases


 Beauty & The Beast: Signature Edition

Overall


Beauty & The Beast is back on Blu-ray, for those that missed their chance to own the Diamond Edition release. The transfer and soundtrack are more or less exactly the same as that OOP version and this one comes with a digital copy. Unfortunately, the new extras are mostly elongated ads for other Disney productions and the older extras (aside from the commentary track) are only available via streaming. This will be more than enough for many viewers, but I’d rather have access directly from the disc. There’s definitely no reason for anyone that owns the old release to double-dip on this one.

 Beauty & The Beast: Signature Edition

 Beauty & The Beast: Signature Edition

 Beauty & The Beast: Signature Edition
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-rays and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.


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