Confession: it's been a long time since I've seen "Beauty and the Beast." By a long while, I mean at least five years, probably more. I never remember loving it as a kid (it's not the most appealing story to a young boy), so there was not a whole lot of motivation for me to see it again.
Blu-Ray Diamond Edition Super Spectacular, soon-to-be-back-in-Disney's vault version of the film waiting to be opened and watched. I figured I'd pop it in and see what it looks like on our beautiful semi-new HDTV, especially now that "Beauty" has been remastered.
All I have to say is: "Damn!" I have been missing out on a lot. I know that "Beauty and the Beast" was the first animated feature to get a best picture Oscar nomination, and it won a handful of other awards, including the Golden Globe for best picture, but I guess I just took it all for granted.
The animation itself was gorgeous. Having just seen "Tangled," which was made 19 years after "Beauty," I felt that the older film held its own and then some concerning the art department. You can definitely tell how much using computers enhanced the beauty of animation. That was then though, and only Pixar and Disney's Animation Studios use computers to make things better, everyone else just uses them to make money.
On the BluRay, there is a great little featurette about how the film nearly never made it to the public. It was a great little documentary, exploring the different obstacles that were overcome to make the film. From getting kicked off the Burbank lot and out of the building Walt built specifically for animation, to how the film had it's original first 20 minutes, which were already fully animated, scrapped. It discusses the issue of Katzenberg and the attitude that eventually got him booted, leading him to create the inferior-to-Pixar Dreamworks SKG.
A couple days later, I received "Waking Sleeping Beauty," which chronicles the animation rejuvenation at the Walt Disney Studios that started with "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" and "Making Beauty and the Beast" was very much like a companion piece to the film, focussing on just one of the films mentioned in "Waking." Some sound bytes were used in both films, but both are fascinating and educational in their own right. I recommend viewing both; you can never learn too much about Disney's history.