sabato 2 ottobre 2010

Beauty and the Beast

18921410_02Thirtieth of the Walt Disney Classics, Beauty and the Beast remains today one of the greatest masterpiece of the studios. It's the second film of the new golden age started with The Little Mermaid in 1989, Ducktales-The Movie : Treasure of the Lost Lamp and The Rescuers Down Under put apart. This key period rang then as a revival, the artists new generation of the studios having arrived at maturation while the ancients had just left retired. The magic word of the time was then to stay in the tradition of the big films while adding a touch of modernity which missed cruelly in the last productions.
The tale of Beauty and the Beast which inspired the film was published in 1756 by Jeanne Marie Le Prince de Beaumont. His history is inspired by a lot of similar narratives (Cupid et Psyche, Notre Dame of Paris, The Ghost of the Opera), thus we can consider it as very ancient, Le Prince de Beaumont having just handed it with current tastes. The main interest of the story was to make us understand that beauty did not come from the body but from the heart.
As The Little MermaidBeauty and the Beast is a long-time project. During the 30's and the 50's, some artists of the studios had already developed a project which never arrived at maturity. With the war and with difficulties to develop the second act of the story, the project was not able to be born, to the great displeasure of Walt Disney himself. So we have to wait 1987 for the project redoes surface at instigation of Roy E. Disney, then executive vice-president, who well planned to regain the prestige of the family company. The return to the fairy tales had made the success of the last production, The Little MermaidBeauty and the Beast had to push the nail.Beauty and the Beast was the first production of a duet of young directors: Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise. These two artists had arrived to Disney during the dark period of the 70's and 80's. Fascinated by animation since his youngest age, Gary Trousdale climbed little by little all the levels leading to Disney studios. Having intended himself for architecture studies, he met a representative of the school of animation CalArts who convinced him to join it. After three years of study the future director enters the production company Carter/ Mendez Productions. There he will be an animator, an illustrator and a storyboards creator for the television. He begins his career at Disney as an assistant on the special effects on The Black Cauldron. Then he arrived in the scenario department where he developed the story of Oliver and Company. Kirke Wise, as for him, prize-winner of drawing competition at the age of seven, entered the CalArts at the end of high school. During his last year in CalArts, he was engaged by Disney as independent animator. In 1986, he enters definitively at Disney, as animator on The Great Mouse Detective, then as scriptwriter on Oliver and Company. After the end of Beauty and the Beast production, the two partners did not leave each other any more and realized again two films together: The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Atlantis the Lost Empire.The musics and the songs were composed by Alan Menken for the music and the big and regretted Howard Hasman for the texts who also produced the film. Both of them had been rewarded by two Oscars, the one for the best song for “Under the Sea” and the one of the best musics, both rewarding their work on The Little Mermaid. Unfortunately Howard Hashman disappeared in March 1991, six months only before the release of Beauty and the Beast and so he was not able to see his work put in honor. A tribute is made to him in the credits of the film: " To our friend Howard, Who gave her Mermaid her voice, and a Beast his soul...”.After a lot of difficulties and reorganizations (the second act always raising so much problem),Beauty and the Beast was ended at the end of the year 1991. A first projection took place some months earlier in a festival of films in New York. The film was not totally finished, many plans were either not still animated or not put in colors. The public of New York was known to be a difficult public, breaking constantly some sugar on the back of Disney which he found too popular. What a surprise then to see them going out of the projection completely enthusiastic, the eyes sparkling , a true big success for the production! The official release of the film (November 13th, 1991 ) confirmed the tendency, Beauty and the Beast was an enormous triumph! It brought more than 403 million dollars to Disney, what was in the time the most profitable cartoon movie of all the history of the cinema. But it is not all, Beauty and the Beast was also the first animated feature film to be nominated for Oscars ® of the best film, the real consecration for all the team of the film and for the studio! The film was released again in IMAX format on January 1st, 2002 with a not insignificant success, before going out for the first time in DVD in October of the same year. This edition remains today one of the most beautiful and of the most complete never released, Beauty and the Beastdeserved it well!
To finish here is a test of animation of the character of the Beast realized by Glen Keane :

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