The television special Beauty and the Beast 30th Anniversary is available on Disney+: here are 5 reasons that make it a Tale As Old As Time and which are enhanced in the special starring HER and Josh Groban that mixes animation and live action.
If we have recently complained about Disney’s new course between sequels and live action, it is because we are inextricably linked to its animated classics, which have made the history of cinema even beyond that language. Just in honor of the 30th anniversary of The beauty and the Beastone of the iconic films of the so-called Disney Renaissance, is available on Disney+ Beauty and the Beast: 30th Anniversary, a television special aired in the USA on ABC (the network owned by the House of Mickey Mouse) that mixes animation and live action to present once again the 30th (the number returns) Disney Classic adored by entire generations of fans all over the today, along with new musical performances, sets and costumes inspired by the classic story, to reveal behind-the-scenes and never-before-seen concept art. Let’s try to retrace it by analyzing 5 characteristics that make it to all intents and purposes one Tale As Old As Time.
1. Inner beauty
“Who could ever love a Beast?”
Fairy tale adaptation The beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, also borrowing some ideas from the 1946 film of the same name, the third film of the Disney Renaissance after The little Mermaid (1989) e Bianca and Bernie in the land of kangaroos (1990) staged a story if we want very simple yet perfectly congenial and still incredibly current today, because it spoke not only of diversity (not only the physical one of the Beast but also the intellectual one of Belle’s aspirations) but also and above all of inner beauty. A theme that today, in the 2020s, in the society of the image made up of social sharing and selfies, is making a comeback, because we all still tend too much to rely on the cover instead of on the content, of people as well as audiovisual products. A diversity implemented by the television special through casting: from H.E.R. to Joshua Henry to play Belle and Gaston, Rita Moreno as narrator and presenter, and so on.
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2. Feminism ante litteram
“There must be more than this provincial life”
Belle will always remain one Disney princess but she has quietly started a feminist “revolution” (after all we are still part of the Renaissance of the House of Walt) which will culminate with Elsa and Anna in Frozen. It will not be a coincidence that for the first time there was a woman in the script, Linda Woolverton, as Moreno recalls. The female protagonist of The beauty and the Beast in fact, she is a girl more interested in studying books in a society that instead wants her to look for a husband to churn out brats (as Gaston would like). A girl who gets excited if you give her a library and an act of kindness rather than a precious diamond, that she sacrifices in place of her father without a second thought and that she must be conquered with her heart and not with her beauty. Of course, in the end the Prince returns to being the charming one before the curse, but she had understood and agreed to love him when he had the features of a Beast and without knowing that he would become one again. A journey narrated perfectly by Moreno through sketches and storyboards never seen before and used to show the public the birth of animation that gave life to these iconic characters. A feminism that ends with HER who, with sunglasses and an electric guitar, sings the notes of the dance going down the stairs towards Josh Groban.
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3. Oscar Regia
“Tale As Old As Time”
One of the elements that is highlighted in the Beauty and the Beast: 30th Anniversary are Disney+, produced by Jon M. Chu and directed by Hamish Hamilton (already behind the camera of some iconic Super Bowl intermissions and music videos) is the fact that it was the first animated film to get an Oscar nomination for Best Picture . A huge event, which gave new meaning and gravitas to the language of animation, which will make it remain the only one until 2010 and 2011 when they arrive Up e Toy Story 3 of Pixar (and in the meantime will win him the Golden Globe). Deserved nomination if only for the famous dance scene and the camera movements of Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise that make us enter the room, through the stairs and over the heads of the characters intent on dancing. A feature that even Bill Condon tried to pay homage in his 2017 live action. In the special it is precisely the mix between cartoon and flesh-and-blood cast that surprises and excites the audience once again, just like the Disney Renaissance it was a successful mix of timeless plot and underlying message, real musicals even in terms of staging, and iconic characters – often animals – to surround the protagonists. In fact, Walt Disney had wanted to make an adaptation of the novel for many years but only thanks to the arrival of the musical element, they succeeded.
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4. Songs and choreography
“Stay with us”
It’s just what we want every time we see this Classic again, to spend more time with its wonderful characters, singing the songs by heart. Music is in fact the other element that the television special re-enacts for the live audience present in the studio, recalling the theatrical matrix of the Renaissance, in the presence of none other than Alan Menken at the piano. He is the author of the spectacular soundtrack of the film, which won at the Oscars and is also revisited here through the unreleased songs created specifically for the 2017 live action, such as Nevermore performed by Josh Groban. There are two dedications in the special: Moreno recalls that the 1991 film was dedicated to Howard Ashman, who died a few months before its release and had edited the texts together with Menken, who continued the excellent work done by his friend and colleague . Also, while in the special Menken performs on piano Tale As Old As Time (literally “a story as old as time“, which we have become “a story you know, truer than ever“), one of the most iconic pieces of music in the entire history of the Walt House, and Shania Twain sings as Mrs. Potts, a tribute to Angela Lansbury, who died in 2022, appears on the screen, dubbing her both in dialogue and in the songs giving her a unique motherhood and sweetness, even in the sequel direct-to-home-video Beauty and the Beast: A Magical Christmas.
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5. Animated tableware
“Wake up the china”
A phrase entered into common speech as well as many other dialogues in the film, and which reminds us how much all the other characters have also contributed to making The beauty and the Beast what it still is today. Neither Beauty and the Beast: 30th Anniversary in fact, the casting used, in addition to the interpreters already mentioned, charismatic personalities such as Martin Short in the role of Lumiere and David Alan Grier in the role of Tockins, because the crockery and the animated parts of the castle’s furniture are the equivalent of the animals for the other Princesses of the Disney Renaissance. How can you not want your own kitchen to set the table and prepare some delicacies while we just have to sit down and enjoy the hearty meal? Even the choreographies are spectacular, so much so that they are traced in an even different way in the special TVcomparing them to a montage to this with Bill Condon’s live action and stage adaptations on Broadway and in the West End.