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Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

September 26, 2010 by  



Disney once against achieves perfection with this true Disney classic on Blu-ray!  “Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition” comes with three versions of the film and packed with special features.  Once again, Disney continues to raise the bar high for Blu-ray releases.  A magnificent release!

Image courtesy of © Disney. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition

FILM YEAR OF RELEASE: 1991

DURATION: Special Extended Version (1:31:44), Original Theatrical Release (1:24:54)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz/24-bit), 5.1 DEHT Frencha nd Spanish Language Tracks, Subtitles: English SDH and English ESL Subtitles, French and Spanish Subtitles

COMPANY: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: G (for General Audiences)

Release Date: October 5, 2010

Directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise

Story by Brenda Chapman, Burny Mattinson, Brian Pumental, Joe Ranft, Kelly Asbury, Chris Sanders, Kevin Harkey, Bruce Woodside, Tom Ellery and Robert Lence

Animation Screenplay by Linda Woolverton

Story Supervisor: Roger Allers

Executive Producer: Howard Ashman

Produced by Don Hahn

Associate Producer: Sarah McArthur

Music by Alan Menken

Edited by John Carnochan

Casting By Albert Tavares

Art Direction by Brian McEntee

Featuring the following voice talent:

Paige O’Hara as Belle

Robby Benson as Beast

Richard White as Gaston

Jerry Orbach as Lumiere

David Ogden Stiers as Cogsworth

Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts

Bradley Pierce as Chip

Rex Everhart as Maurice

Jesse Corti as Lefou

Hal Smith as Philippe

Tony Jay as Monsieur D’Arque

Set in and around a quaint French village during the late 18th century, Beauty and the Beast follows the fantastic adventures of Belle, a bright and beautiful young woman who finds escape from her ordinary life, and the advances of a boorish suitor, Gaston, by reading books. Meanwhile, off in a castle in the distance, a cruel young prince is cast under the spell of an enchantress who turns him into a tormented beast, while transforming his servants into animated household objects. In order to remove the curse, the Beast must discover a true love who will return his affection before the last petal falls from an enchanted rose. When Belle’s inventor father stumbles upon the Beast’s castle and is taken prisoner, Belle comes to the rescue and agrees to take her father’s place. With the help of the castle’s enchanted staff, she sees beneath the Beast’s exterior and discovers the heart and soul of a human prince.

The story of “Beauty and the Beast” was born as a fairy tale back in the 1740′s by Madame Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve and then revised in 1757 by French novelist Jeanne Marie Le Prince de Beaumont received its animated adaptation courtesy of Walt Disney  in 1991.

The film is directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise (both worked on “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and “Atlantis: The Lost Empire”) and the screenplay adaptation by Linda Woolverton (“The Lion King”, “Mulan” , “Arctic Tale” and “Alice in Wonderland”).

“Beauty and the Beast” is the 30th film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics line and is considered one of the greatest Disney animated films of all time.  The film was an amazing success as the film which cost $25 million to make had made over $377 million dollars worldwide and the film was also the first animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture (note: The second was 2009’s “Up”) and was successful in blending traditional animation with CG.

And now the popular animated film receives its first release on Disney Blu-ray and receives a “Diamond Edition” release.  In this release, we get more special features than its previous 2002 DVD release but also three different versions of the film which includes a special extended edition, the original theatrical release and the original theatrical release with storyreel picture in picture (watching the film with the original storyboards in picture in picture format).

“Beauty and the Beast” begins with an enchantress who is disguised as a beggar gives a young prince a rose in exchange for a night’s shelter.  Unfortunately, the prince turns her away and so she transforms him into a beast and also transforms his servants into furniture and silverware.

The enchantress gives him a rose and a magic mirror.  The rose will bloom until his 21st birthday and he must find a woman who loves him for what he is inside, not for what he is in the outside.  If he does not find someone who will love him, he will remain a beast forever.  As for the magic mirror, it grants him to view what is going on around him from faraway.

We are then introduced to the characters of Belle and her father, an inventor named Maurice.  In her village, Gaston is the local hero, an arrogant man she has been courting but has no interest in.

One day, Maurice has invented a wood-chopping machine and plans to take it to a fair.  Unfortunately, he gets lost and while his horse knows where to go, Maurice takes the other direction where the woods look dark and creepy.  He ends up at the beast’s castle and when he goes to check inside he meets the beast’s servants such as Lumiere the candle holder, Mrs. Potts (a pot) and her son Chip (a chipped tea cup) and Cogsworth.  Because Maurice has stepped into private property,  the beast has imprisoned him.

Meanwhile, Belle is worried that her father has not returned but the horse has.  So, she goes with the horse to the Beast’s castle and in order for the Beast to release her father, Belle tells the beast that she will be his prisoner and to let her father go.  The beast accepts.

Cogsworth and Mrs. Potts know that this is the probably there best chance in order for the beast and the to change back to human-form and they to show the kind and gentler side of the Beast (and trying to curb his anger).

As for Maurice, when he arrives to the village, he tries to tell people that Belle has imprisoned by a Beast but no one believes him.

Will the beast manage to convince Belle to stay and somehow have her confess her love to him?  Or will she leave him and he will stay a beast forever?

VIDEO:

Everything about “Beauty and Beast” screams gorgeous, vibrant and magnificent with the release of “Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition”.   In my 2002 DVD review, I talked about how beautiful the animation was and how well-painted the backgrounds were but after watching this on Blu-ray, I’m going to focus on how vibrant the colors are, how well-defined the lines are, how  detailed the backgrounds to the simplest of objects such as wood, leaves and objects are.  How every character and object and its shadowing are well-done.

“Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1).  From the daylight scenes that showcase the amber oranges to the winter scenes that show the whites and blues, to the night-time and more ominous and darker scenes, blacks are nice and deep but yet you can still see detail where shadows are present on objects.  You can see the stains on the roof of the background and can easily make out the different color bricks on the chimneys, the pattern of wood on the home and well.  And of course, the animation and how free flowing the characters are, especially in the dance scene.  For a film that was created in 1991, you can’t tell this animated film is nearly 20-years-old.  This film still looks incredible and it looks wonderful in HD.   I detected no banding, edge enhancement, haloing, combing or compression artifacting.

This is the definitive version to own of this title yet and if you have a Blu-ray player and love Disney animated classics, picture quality-wise, this is a title that simply is a must-own.

As for the included DVD, the DVD is presented in 1:78:1 aspect ration-enhanced for 16×9 televisions.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition” is not only fantastic in picture quality, the film is absolutely fantastic via lossless as well.  Presented in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (48 kHz.24-bit) as well as 5.1 DEHT French and Spanish language tracks, “Beauty and the Beast” does not disappoint.

If anything, I wished that everything Disney releases were in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and fortunately, the animated classics have received this attention.  Audio literally envelops the soundscape with immersive audio coming from the front and center channels, the surround channels, the rear surround channels.  Dialogue and music is crisp and clear, the slight sounds of leaves, horse galloping, the leaves rustling, the Beast growling, the sound of flame flickering, pots and tea cups clinkering, these are all well-done.  And it doesn’t stop there, there is also LFE present as well.

But if anything, one thing that “Beauty and the Beast” is known for is its music.  Alan Menkin’s music for the film is wonderful.  You will find yourself singing to songs such as “Beauty and the Beast”, “Be Our Guest” and “Belle” and the truth is, the music captivated many people in 1991, so much that it won an Academy Award for “Best Music, Original Score” and “Best Music, Original Song” and also won two Golden Globe Awards as well for its score and for “Best Original Song – Beauty and the Beast”.

As for subtitles, “Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition” is presented in English SDH, English ESL, French and Spanish.

As for the included DVD, the DVD is presented in 5.1DEHT English and Spanish Language Tracks with English SDH and Spanish subtitles.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition” comes with the following special features presented in HD (note: original DVD features that are on the Blu-ray are presented in standard definition):

DISC 1:

  • Audio Commentary – Audio Commentary for the special extended edition is included.  Featuring commentary by directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise plus producer Don Hahn.  The three go into look and feel of “Beauty and the Beast” and what they wanted to achieve.  As well as dissecting the scene and the characters of the film.  Alan Menken lends his commentary on the creation of the music for the film.
  • Sing A Long – Watch the movie with karaoke style Sing A Long.
  • Composing a Classic – (20:18) A Magical conversation with Alan Menkin, Don Hahn and Menkin’s agent Richard Kraft.  Everything you wanted to know about the music from “Beauty and the Beast”.
  • Deleted Scenes –  Featuring the following deleted segments: Introduction to Alternate Story Opening by Peter Schneider (:32), Alternate Story Open (18:24), Introduction to Deleted Scene by Roger Allers (:38) and Belle in the Library (8:27).
  • Broadway Beginnings – (13:02) Stars such as Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Nick Jonas, Christy Carlson-Romano, Andrea McArdle, Donny Osmond, Deborah Gibson and others talking about being involved in the Broadway version of “Beauty and the Beast” and their experience of watching the animated film.
  • Music Video – (3:26) A music video featuring Jordin Sparks singing “Beauty and the Beast”.
  • Sneak Peaks – Upcoming Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment releases and trailers for upcoming films from Disney.

DISC 2:

  • Enchanted Musical Challenge Game – Find objects that were scattered around the Beast’s castle.  The game is played using your remote.
  • Bonjour Who Is This – A Disney Teleplay Game –  A secret identity game for 2 to  8 players.  Use your telephones to control the game. (Note: you must call a 1-877 to play this game).
  • Beyond Beauty – (157 minutes) The untold stories behind the making of “Beauty and the Beast?  A documentary on the making of the film and interviews with cast and crew.  When you see icons show up, you have eight seconds to click on it and if you do, you access sub-featurettes.  This section keeps track of everything that has been watched as well.  An awesome documentary and addition to “Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition”.
  • The Story Behind the Story – (25:41) A featurette about the making of Disney films such as “Cinderella”, “The Lion King”, “Pocahontas”, “The Jungle Book”, “Sleeping Beauty”, “Mulan” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”.  Presented in standard definition, a featurette that was included on the 2002 DVD hosted by Celine Dion.
  • Beauty and the Beast Music Video – (4:31) Featuring a duet with Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson.  Presented in standard definition and was included in the original 2002 DVD.
  • Early Presentation Reel – (2:51) Don Hahn talks about a reel made in presenting to the crew of what they were trying to create before production began on the film.   Presented in standard definition and was included in the original 2002 DVD.
  • Alternate Version of “Be Our Guest” – (4:55) Don Hahn shows us how the song was used in the film as the song was originally sung by Maurice.  Presented in standard definition and was included in the original 2002 DVD.
  • Alternate Score of “The Transformation” – Alan Menken presents the original score for “The Transformation” scene to the original rough sketch of the transformation scene.  Presented in standard definition and was included in the original 2002 DVD.
  • Deleted Song – (6:58) Featuring the deleted song “Human Again” and an optional introduction by Don Hahn and another by Alan Menken. Presented in standard definition and was included in the original 2002 DVD.
  • Animation – Featuring three segments: Animation Tests featuring commentary by Don Hahn (4:54), Rouges & Clean Ups, The Transformation: Pencil Version featuring commentary by Don Hahn (5:24) and A Transformation by Glen Keane (3:13). Presented in standard definition and was included in the original 2002 DVD.
  • Camera Move Test -(2:06) Don Hahn talks about the camera were going to be used and we get to see the first camera rehearsal during the dancing scene of the film.  Presented in standard definition and was included in the original 2002 DVD.  Presented in standard definition and was included in the original 2002 DVD.
  • Trailers & TV Spots – Featuring the original release trailer, large format release trailer and four TV spots plus an introduction by Don Hahn.  Presented in standard definition and was included in the original 2002 DVD.

EXTRAS:

A DVD version of the feature film is included (all three versions of the film is presented on DVD).  Also, a slipcase cover is included for this release.

My opinion of “Beauty and the Beast” has not changed since my DVD review for the title back in 2002.  The animation, the painted backgrounds, the music, the characters, the movement… everything about the film is a pleasant reminder of the classic Disney films that I have loved and “Beauty and the Beast” is a film I still love.

Similar to the “Snow White” Blu-ray release, how can “Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition” improve upon the original 2002 release?  Easy…by adding a ton of special features and three different versions of the film.  This is what I love about Disney, they know what their customers want and what they expect and that is simply getting quality releases each time but raising the bar higher and higher of what a release should be.  And for Disney, there classic animated films are expected to be fantastic releases and fans expect nothing lower.

I expected something incredible and to tell you the truth, I was pretty much expecting better picture quality in HD and lossless audio quality with the same special features and maybe a new audio commentary and possibly a retrospective featurette, but Disney has surpassed my expectations by giving us way more than what we would have expected for this film and I’m impressed and also very grateful.

The film has everything you want.  Great characters, adventure, drama, action, memorable music and more!  And 20-years later, “Beauty and the Beast” looks and sounds phenomenal on Blu-ray.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment have once again achieved perfection and if you are a Disney fan, a “Beauty and the Beast” fan and pretty much any person or fan who respects the quality of the Walt Disney animated classics on HD thus far, “Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition” receives my highest recommendation!






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