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Beauty and the Beast is a American animated feature produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation which premiered at the El Capitan Theatremarker in Hollywoodmarker on November 13, 1991. The thirtieth film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the film is based on the fairy tale La Belle et la Bête by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont, who was uncredited in the English version of the film but credited in the French version as writer of the novel.

The film centers around a beast who keeps a beautiful young woman named Belle in a castle. The beast must win Belle's love or he will remain a beast forever. It is the only full-length animated feature film to ever be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Heightening the level of performance in the era known as the Disney Renaissance (1989–1999, beginning with The Little Mermaid and ending with Tarzan), many animated films following its release have been influenced by its blending of traditional animation and computer generated imagery.

The film was adapted to an animation screenplay by Linda Woolverton and directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise. The music of the film was composed by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, both of whom had written the music and songs for Disney's The Little Mermaid. It was a significant success at the box-office, with more than $145 million in domestic revenues alone and over $403 million in worldwide revenues. This high number of sales made it the third-most successful movie of 1991, surpassed only by summer blockbusters Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. It was also the most successful animated Disney film at the time and the first animated movie to reach $100 million at the domestic box-office.

On November 11, 1997, a midquel called Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas was released direct-to-video. It was quickly followed by another midquel titled Belle's Magical World that was released on February 17, 1998. A theatrical production and a television spin-off film, Sing Me a Story with Belle, were also released.


In the film's prologue, an enchantress disguised as an old beggar woman offers a young prince a rose in exchange for a night's shelter. When he turns her away, she transforms him into an ugly Beast and turns his servants into furniture and other household items. She gives him a magic mirror that will enable him to view faraway events, and also gives him the rose, which will bloom until his 21st birthday. He must love and be loved in return before all the rose's petals have fallen off, or he will remain a Beast forever.

Years later, a beautiful but unusual young woman named Belle lives in a nearby village with her father Maurice, who is an inventor. Belle loves reading and yearns for a life beyond the village. She is also the object of unwanted attention from the arrogant local hero, Gaston.

Maurice's latest invention is a wood-chopping machine. When he rides off to display the machine at a fair, he loses his way in the woods and stumbles upon the Beast's castle, where he meets the transformed servants Lumiere, Mrs. Potts and her son Chip, and Cogsworth. The Beast imprisons Maurice, but Belle is led back to the castle by Maurice's horse and offers to take her father's place. When the Beast agrees to this, Maurice returns to the village and tells people what happened, but they think he has lost his mind, so he goes to rescue her alone.

The famous ballroom dance sequence.
Meanwhile, Belle refuses the Beast's invitation to dinner, and the Beast orders his servants not to let her eat, but Lumiere serves her dinner anyway and Cogsworth gives her a tour of the castle. When she finds the rose in a forbidden area, the Beast angrily chases her away.

Frightened, Belle tries to escape, but she and her horse are attacked by wolves. After the Beast rescues her, she nurses his wounds, he gives her the castle library as a gift, and they become friends. Later, they have an elegant dinner and a romantic ballroom dance. When he lets her use the magic mirror, she sees her father dying in the woods, and the Beast allows her to leave, giving her the mirror to remember him by. This horrifies the servants, who, with only hours left before the rose wilts, fear they will never be human again.

Belle finds Maurice and takes him home, but Gaston arrives with a mob. Unless she agrees to marry Gaston, the evil manager of the insane asylum will lock her father up. Belle proves Maurice sane by showing them the Beast with the magic mirror, but Gaston arouses the mob's anger against the Beast and leads them to the castle. He locks Belle and Maurice in a basement, but Chip, who hid himself in Belle's baggage, chops the basement door apart with Maurice's machine.

While the servants fend off the mob, Gaston finds the Beast and attacks him. The Beast is initially too depressed to fight back, but regains his will when he sees Belle arriving at the castle. After winning a heated battle, the Beast spares Gaston's life and climbs up to a balcony where Belle is waiting. Gaston follows the Beast and stabs him from behind, but loses his footing and falls to his death.

As the Beast dies from his injuries, Belle whispers that she loves him, breaking the spell. The Beast comes back to life, and he and the servants become human again. The last scene shows Belle and the prince dancing in the ballroom as her father and the servants happily watch them.


Walt Disney sought out other stories to turn into feature films after the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Beauty and the Beast was one of the stories he considered. Attempts to develop the Beauty and the Beast story into a film were made in the 1930s and 1950s, but were ultimately given up because it "proved to be a challenge" for the story team. Peter M. Nichols states Disney may later have been discouraged by Jean Cocteau having already done his version.

After the success of The Little Mermaid in the late 1980s, the Disney team made more attempts to adapt Beauty and the Beast into a film, but an initial story reel was scrapped because it "did not work". Howard Ashman, Alan Menken, and Don Hahn continued with the project, with Hahn bringing in first-time animation feature directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale to direct the film. Ashman and Menken worked closely with the story team to create a "Broadway-style" score to help develop the plot and characters. Since the original story had only two major characters in it, the filmmakers enhanced them, added new characters in the form of enchanted household items who "add warmth and comedy to a gloomy story" and guide the audience through the film, and added a "real villain" in the form of Gaston. In addition, "Beauty and the Beast" was also written in script form, a first and, at the time, an unusual production move for an animated film. Linda Woolverton wrote the script.

Producer Don Hahn mentions that the prologue of the film, which tells the story from the Beast's perspective, is different from other versions of the story. The use of stained glass windows in the prologue was done because the team wanted to have the "fairy tale classic Disney opening" without having to use a literal storybook because it had been done "so many times" in the past.

A barnyard scene from the opening number of the film was actually first conceived during initial work on the unproduced feature Chanticleer. Sequences were rewritten during the production of the film, even while some scenes were already being animated.

The film includes intentional homages to other films such as The Sound of Music (in a scene with Belle on a hilltop), and earlier Disney animated features.

Cast and characters

  • Robby Benson as The Beast - A cold-hearted Prince transformed into a Beast as punishment, but later warms, with the help of Belle, ending up being transformed back into a handsome prince as a reward. He serves as the main protagonist of the film. Chris Sanders, who was part of the film's Story team, drafted the designs for the Beast and came up with designs based on birds, insects, and fish before coming up with something close to the final design. Glen Keane, Supervising Animator for the Beast, refined the design by going to the zoo and studying the animals that the Beast was based on. Benson commented that "There's a rage and torment in this character I've never been asked to use before." The filmmakers commented that "everybody was big fee-fi-fo-fum and gravelly" while Benson's voice had the "big voice and the warm, accessible side" and that "you could hear the prince beneath the fur".

  • Paige O'Hara as Belle - A bookworm who falls in love with the Beast and finds the kind-hearted human inside him. In their effort to enhance the character from the original story, the filmmakers felt that Belle should be "unaware" of her own beauty and made her "a little eccentric". Producer Don Hahn commented that they were "darn lucky" to have O'Hara with them, and that she was "great for this role".
  • Richard White as Gaston - A highly egotistical hunter who vies for Belle's hand in marriage and is determined not to let anyone else win her heart, even if it means killing her true love. He serves as the main antagonist of the film. Hahn commented that they had "big line-ups of good-looking men with deep voices" during the casting auditions, but that Richard White had a "big voice" that "rattled the room". In 1997, White mentioned in an interview that he was not sure if Gaston dies when he falls from the Beast's castle toward the end of the film, pointing out that the audience "never saw Gaston's body." In the 2002 DVD audio commentary, Wise and Trousdale point out that as Gaston "falls to his death" toward the end of the completed film, two frames showed skulls in his eyes. They go on to say that these skulls serve as "a harbinger of things to come", confirming Gaston's death.
  • Jerry Orbach as Lumière - The kind-hearted but rebellious maître d' of the Beast's castle, he has been transformed into a candelabra. He has a habit of disobeying his master's strict rules, sometimes leading to tension between them, but the Beast often turns to him for advice. Depicted as a bit of a Ladies man, as he is frequently seen with Fifi the Featherduster and immediately takes to Belle.
  • Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts - The head of the castle kitchens, turned into a teapot, who takes on a motherly attitude towards Belle. The filmmakers had to go through several names for Mrs. Potts, such as "Mrs. Chamomile", before Ashman suggested the use of simple and concise names for the household objects.
  • David Ogden Stiers as Cogsworth - The castle majordomo, transformed into a clock. While he is as good-natured as Lumiere, he is extremely loyal to the Beast so as to save himself and anyone else any trouble, often leading to friction between himself and Lumiere. Stiers also provided the voice of The Narrator.
  • Bradley Pierce as Chip - A teacup and Mrs. Potts' son. The filmmakers were so impressed by Pierce's performance that they created more scenes with Chip in them.
  • Jesse Corti as LeFou - Gaston's bumbling and often mistreated sidekick, and a supporting antagonist.
  • Rex Everhart as Maurice - Belle's inventor father.
  • Hal Smith as Philippe - Belle's horse.
  • Jo Anne Worley as Wardrobe - The former Opera singer of the castle, turned into a wardrobe. The character of Wardrobe was introduced by visual development person Sue C. Nichols to the then entirely male cast of servants, and was originally a more integral character named "Madame Armoire". Her role was later expanded upon and ultimately taken over by Mrs. Potts. Wardrobe is known as "Madame de la Grande Bouche" in the stage adaptation of the film.
  • Kimmy Robertson as the Featherduster - A featherduster and Lumiere's lover. She is named "Babette" in the stage adaptation of the film, and "Fifi" in Belle's Magical World.
  • Frank Welker as Footstool aka Sultan the castle's pet dog turned into a footstool whom Chip seems to own as his pet, and as the Wolves a vicious pack of wolves who live in the forest beyond the Beast's castle. They attempt to eat Maurice, who escapes from them, and then attempt to eat Belle as she flees the castle but the Beast saves her from them.
  • Mary Kay Bergman as Babette - A village girl with her eyes on Gaston.
  • Kath Soucie as Bimbette - Another village girl who fancies Gaston.
  • Tony Jay as Monsieur D'Arque - The owner of the Maison de Lune. Gaston bribes him to help him in his plan to blackmail Belle.
  • Brian Cummings as Stove aka Chef Bouche - The hot-tempered castle chef, turned into a stove.
  • Alvin Epstein as Bookseller - A friendly man whose favourite customer is Belle.
  • Alex Murphey as Baker - A villager who shows little interest in literature.

In the Chinese dubs of Beauty and the Beast, the voice of the Beast is provided by Jackie Chan. He provided both the speaking and singing voices in these versions.

In September 2007, CCTV6 (a Chinese movie channel) aired a new dub version of Beauty and the Beast in which Beast's voice (by 王凯, Wang Kai) sounds younger. Together with this version, a translated version of Céline Dion and Peabo Bryson's Beauty and the Beast theme song was released, which was translated by Chan Siu Kei and sung by Nicholas Tse Ting-Fung and Mei Lin(梅琳, a newer Chinese singer). But this translated theme song was only separately released before the film started and not occurred in the film, which uses another translated version of lyrics, translated by Han Wen(翰文).

In the French version, the theme song is provided by Charles Aznavour. Two Spanish versions exist, one in Mexicanmarker Spanish for the Latin American market, the other in Castilian Spanish for the European market; in the Mexican version, the voice of LeFou is provided by the same actor who played the role in English, Venezuelanmarker-American voice actor Jesse Corti.

In the Swedish version, the theme song is provided by Tommy Körberg and Sofia Källgren. Körberg also provided the voice of the Beast in the movie and Källgren the voice of Belle.


According to Alan Menken, the first song that he and Howard Ashman wrote for the film was "Belle". The songs were recorded "live" with the orchestra and the cast in the room, which, according to Hahn and Trousdale, gave the songs "energy". The song "Be Our Guest" was originally supposed to be sung to Maurice instead of Belle, but Bruce Woodside pointed out that the song was in the wrong place because Maurice was not the focus of the story. "Human Again", a song that was removed due to story problems in the original release, was re-added to the film's Special Edition VCD and DVD releases after Menken made alterations to the song for the Beauty and the Beast Broadway production.

All songs were the last complete works for a movie by Academy Award winner Howard Ashman. Ashman died eight months prior to the release of the film. There is a tribute to him at the end of the film: "To our friend, Howard, who gave a mermaid her voice, and a beast his soul. We will be forever grateful. Howard Ashman 1950–1991". The songs "Beauty and the Beast", "Be Our Guest", "Something There", and "Gaston", "The Mob Song", and "Belle" were included in Classic Disney: 60 Years of Musical Magic box set. "Beauty and the Beast", "Be Our Guest", and "Gaston" were also included in the Disney's Greatest Hits CD set.

Beauty and the Beast has influenced the works of the symphonic metal band Nightwish. Keyboardist and composer Tuomas Holopainen cites "all the Disney classics" as among his favourite films, and the song "Beauty and the Beast" from their debut album Angels Fall First is a reinterpretation of the movie's plot.

Musical Numbers

  1. Belle- Belle, Gaston, & Townspeople
  2. Belle (Reprise)- Belle
  3. Gaston- Gaston, Lefou, & Townspeople
  4. Gaston (Reprise)- Gaston & Lefou
  5. Be Our Guest- Lumière, Mrs. Potts, & Enchanted Objects
  6. Something There- Belle, Beast, Lumière, Cogsworth, & Mrs. Potts
  7. Human Again (released in the 2002 special edition)- Lumière, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, Wardrode, Chip & Enchanted Objects
  8. Beauty and The Beast- Mrs. Potts
  9. The Mob Song- Gaston, Lefou & Townspeople


The film was shown at the New York Film Festival in September 1991. Because the animation was only about 70% complete, the film was shown as a "Work-In-Progress." Storyboards and pencil tests were used in place of the remaining 30%. In addition, parts of the film that were finished were "stepped-back" to previous versions of completion. This version of the film has been released on VHS, the September 1993 LaserDisc, and the October 8, 2002, Platinum Edition DVD.

Upon the theatrical release of the finished version, the film was universally praised, with Roger Ebert giving it four stars out of four and saying that "Beauty and the Beast reaches back to an older and healthier Hollywood tradition in which the best writers, musicians and filmmakers are gathered for a project on the assumption that a family audience deserves great entertainment, too." As of August 2008, the film had received a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes The visual effects have also been praised "stunning early use of computer animation", regarding the spectacular ballroom sequence in which Belle and the Beast dance around a 3-D ballroom. (The filmmakers had originally decided against the use of computers in favor of traditional animation, but later, when the technology had improved, they decided they could use it for that one scene.) The sequence helped convince studio executives to look further into computer animation.

Smoodin writes in his book Animating Culture that the studio was trying to make-up for earlier gender stereotypes with this film. Smoodin also states that, in the way it has been viewed as bringing together traditional fairy tales and feminism as well as computer and traditional animation, and the film’s greatness could be proved in terms technology narrative or even politics. Another author writes that Belle “becomes a sort of intellectual less by actually reading books, it seems, than by hanging out with them,” but says that the film comes closer than other “Disney-studio” films to “accepting challenges of the kind that the finest Walt Disney features met”. David Whitley writes in The Idea of Nature in Disney Animation that Belle is different from earlier Disney heroines in that she is mostly free from the burdens of domestic housework, although her role is somewhat undefined in the same way that “contemporary culture now requires most adolescent girls to contribute little in the way of domestic work before they leave home and have to take on the fraught, multiple responsibilities of the working mother”. Whitley also notes other themes and modern influences, such as the film's critical view of Gaston’s chauvinism and attitude towards nature, the cyborg-like servants, and the father’s role as an inventor rather than a merchant.

Betsy Hearne, editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, writes that the film belittles the original story's moral about "inner beauty", as well as the heroine herself, in favor of a more brutish struggle; "In fact," she says, "it is not Beauty's lack of love that almost kills Disney's beast, but a rival's dagger."

Stefan Kanfer writes in his book Serious Business that in this film "the tradition of the musical theater was fully co-opted", such as in the casting of Broadway performers Angela Lansbury and Jerry Orbach.

The film was screened out of competition at the 1992 Cannes Film Festival.

In 2002, Beauty and the Beast was added to the United States National Film Registry as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." In January of the same year, the film restored and remastered for its January 1, 2002 re-release in IMAX theatres in a special edition edit including a new musical sequence. For this version of the film, much of the animation was touched up, a new sequence set to the deleted song "Human Again" was inserted into the film's second act, and a new digital master from the original CAPS production files was used to make the high resolution IMAX film negative. A 3D version of the film was scheduled to be re-released in theatres on February 12, 2010 in the Disney Digital 3-D format, but the project has been postponed until 2011 to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the movie's release, allowing Disney to hype the film and create an event around its release.

Home Video

The film was released to VHS and Laserdisc on October 30, 1992, as part of the Walt Disney Classics series, but it was for a limited-time only for it was dropped in print after it was put on moratorium. Beauty and the Beast: Special Edition, as the enhanced version of the film is called, was released on a 2-Disc Platinum Edition Disney DVD on October 8, 2002. The Special Edition DVD features the IMAX version, which includes the deleted song "Human Again", the original theatrical version, and the workprint version which was shown at the 1991 New York Film Festival. This 2-Disc Platinum Edition DVD went to the Disney Vault on January 2003 along with its follow-ups (Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas and Belle's Magical World). Disney has recently announced that a home video re-release is planned for Spring 2010 which will bring the film again to DVD and, for the first time, on Blu-Ray as part of the new "Diamond Edition" line.

For the VHS and laserdisc releases, the frames that showed skulls in Gaston's eyes as he fell from the Beast's castle were modified to remove the skulls. However, no such alteration was made for the 2002 DVD release.


On Tuesday, April 18, 1994, a stage adaptation, also titled "Beauty and the Beast", premiered on Broadwaymarker at the Palace Theatre in New York Citymarker. The show transferred to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on November 11, 1999. The commercial (though not critical) success of the show led to productions in the West Endmarker, Torontomarker, and all over the world. The Broadway version, which ran for over a decade, received a Tony Award, and became the first of a whole line of Disney stage productions. The original Broadwaymarker cast included Terrence Mann as the Beast, Susan Egan as Belle, Burke Moses as Gaston, Gary Beach as Lumiere, Heath Lamberts as Cogsworth, Tom Bosley as Maurice, Beth Fowler as Mrs. Potts, and Stacey Logan as Babette the feather duster. Many celebrities also starred in the Broadwaymarker production during its thirteen year run including Kerry Butler, Deborah Gibson, Toni Braxton, Andrea McArdle, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Christy Carlson Romano, Ashley Brown, and Anneliese van der Pol as Belle; Chuck Wagner, James Barbour, and Jeff McCarthy as the Beast; Meshach Taylor, Jacob Young, and John Tartaglia as Lumiere; and Marc Kudisch, Christopher Sieber, and Donny Osmond as Gaston. The show ended its Broadwaymarker run on July 29, 2007 after 46 previews and 5,464 performances.

Awards and nominations

Beauty and the Beast won two Academy Awards for Best Music, Original Score and Best Music, Song for Alan Menken and Howard Ashman's "Beauty and the Beast", sung in the film's most famous scene by Angela Lansbury, and at the end of the film by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson. Two other Menken and Ashman songs from the movie also nominated for Best Music, Song were "Belle" and "Be Our Guest", making it the first picture ever to receive three Academy Award nominations for Best Song, a feat that would be repeated by The Lion King, Dreamgirls, and Enchanted (Academy rules have since been changed that limit one film to two nominations in this category). Beauty and the Beast was also nominated for Best Sound and Best Picture. It is the only animated movie ever to be nominated for Best Picture.

In June 2008, the American Film Institute revealed its "Ten top Ten"—the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Beauty and the Beast was acknowledged as the 7th best film in the animation genre. In previous lists, Beauty and the Beast also ranked #22 on the Institutes's list of best musicals and #34 on its list of the best romantic American movies. On the list of the greatest songs from American movies, Beauty and the Beast ranked #62.

Academy Awards
To date, Beauty and the Beast (1991) is the only animated film ever to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. This film currently shares the record for the most nominations for an animated film, six, with WALL-E (2008).

Award Recipient
Best Music, Original Score Alan Menken
Best Music, Original Song Alan Menken & Howard Ashman
Best Picture Don Hahn
Best Music, Original Song Alan Menken & Howard Ashman
Best Music, Original Song Alan Menken & Howard Ashman
Best Sound Terry Porter, Mel Metcalfe, David J. Hudson & Doc Kane

Golden Globes
Beauty and the Beast was the first animated feature to win a Golden Globe for Best Picture - Musical or Comedy. This feat was repeated by The Lion King and Toy Story 2.

Award Result
Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy Won
Best Original Score Won
Best Original Song (For "Beauty and the Beast") Won
Best Original Song (For "Be Our Guest") Nominated

Grammy Awards
Award Result
Best Album for Children Won
Best Pop Performance by a Group or Duo With Vocal (For "Beauty and the Beast") Won
Song of the Year (For "Beauty and the Beast") Nominated
Best Instrumental Composition Written for a Motion Picture Won
Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or for Television (For "Beauty and the Beast") Won
Record of the Year (For "Beauty and the Beast") Nominated

Other Awards
Award Result
ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards: Most Performed Songs in a Motion Picture Won
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films: Best DVD Classic Film Release Won
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films: Best Music Won
Annie Awards: Best Animated Feature Won
BAFTA Awards: Best Original Film Score Nominated
BAFTA Awards: Best Special Effects Nominated
BMI Film and TV Awards: BMI Film Music Award Won
DVD Exclusive Awards: Best Overall New Extra Features, Library Release Won
DVD Exclusive Awards: Best Menu Design Nominated
Hugo Awards: Best Dramatic Presentation Nominated
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards: Best Animated Feature Won
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards: Best Animation Won
Motion Picture Sound Editors: Best Sound Editing, Animated Feature Won
National Board of Review: Special Award for Animation Won
Satellite Awards: Best Youth DVD Nominated
Young Artist Awards: Outstanding Family Entertainment of the Year Won


There are Disney versions of the story published and sold as storybooks and a comic book based on the film published by Disney Comics. In 1995, a live-action children's series called Sing Me a Story with Belle started on syndication, running until 1999.


  1. [1]
  2. Kanfer (1997), p. 228.
  3. Smoodin (1993), p. 190.

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