Media FX Review of
Beauty and the Beast Special Edition (IMAX)
by Joe Tracy, publisher of Digital Media FX Magazine
cut to the chase.
Beauty and the Beast Special Edition is absolutely
amazing and a good reminder as to why the movie was given
a "Best Picture" Oscar nomination for its 1991
original release. Beauty and the Beast is a gem.
So is the IMAX release where the two years of work Disney
put into restoring the movie shows on screen.
general, Beauty and the Beast is a great movie
because it perfectly executes in a number of key areas:
It contains a great romance story.
2) The humor is well executed.
3) It has a solid drama foundation.
4) The villain is unique and unlike any past
5) The songs are outstanding.
Disney first announced that it was releasing Beauty
and the Beast to IMAX screens, I was very skeptical.
The only visions we had been given of Disney's rerelease
work on IMAX was "The Sorcerer's Apprentice"
segment of Fantasia 2000, which quite frankly did
not look that good when "blown up". I questioned
(even publicly) whether the IMAX release was a good idea
for Beauty and the Beast.
seeing Beauty and the Beast on IMAX, I'm now sold on the
fact that future Disney rereleases to IMAX (which include
The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and
others) is an excellent venue for these films. The digital
restoration is executed with a precision that shines.
The sound, particularly the base, adds a new dimension
to the experience. Now if only the IMAX seats were a little
now that the controversy as to whether Disney could restore
its slate of digitally stored animated movies to IMAX
is solved, let's turn to the second controversy - Human
There's a reason that the "Human Again" song
was not a part of the original Beauty and the Beast
- it didn't quite fit. Here was the problem in Disney's
song posed story problems which couldn't be solved in
a timely manner. Originally conceived as an 11-minute
musical number, the song was ultimately replaced with
the shorter and more direct Something There."
what was the inspiration in including this song in the
rerelease of this Disney classic? Here it is in producer
Don Hahn's own words:
four years ago, Kirk and Gary and I were sitting around
talking about the Star Wars Special Edition that
had just come out and Kirk jokingly suggested, 'wouldn't
it be fun to do a special edition of Beauty with
Human Again or new material in it?' When the head of Feature
Animation said he thought it was a great idea, we stopped
joking and began thinking about how we could actually
do it. We had storyboarded the sequence for the original
production, but completely reworked it for this special
edition of the film."
wouldn't be the first public performance/viewing of the
song as it had been incorporated into Disney's theatrical
Broadway production of Beauty and the Beast with great
success. But why tamper with perfection? Was it a good
idea to include it in the Special Edition? The answer
is "yes" and "no."
song "Human Again" begins shortly after the
"Something There" song. The premise is that
Cogsworth wants to create a more romantic setting for
Belle and Beast to "rush things along" so that
they fall in love before the last rose pedal falls. The
group of enchanted items launch into a song dreaming of
what it would be like to be human again (no they don't
change into humans during the song). In addition to the
main enchanted characters, the song includes a cast of
additional enchanted objects.
seen the original Beauty and the Beast 47 times
(mostly in theaters during the original release) I must
admit it is quite odd to suddenly see new footage. The
first half of the song (including the intro to it) seem
a bit weak, yet it got better as the song continued. Then,
three-fourths the way through the song there is a scene
where Belle is teaching Beast to read. This single sequence,
albiet short, deepened the story and the relationship
issue. It is definitely an excellent addition to the movie.
not sold that the "Human Again" song needed
to be added to the IMAX version of Beauty and the Beast,
but I respect the decision of the film's artists to add
it. I also must admit that it was quite interesting to
have something "new" to see. But at the same
time, "Human Again" almost makes it feel like
there is "one too many" songs in this classic,
particularly coming so soon after "Something There."
I think the movie would have been perfect if the "learning
to read" scene had been added without the song. Yet
I'm also reserved to the fact that multiple viewings of
the IMAX version (no, not another 47 times) could alter
IMAX Pros and Cons
Beauty and the Beast is huge on the IMAX screen.
After the initial narration, I received a chill down my
spine as the camera panned past the trees because it felt
like I was there. The IMAX version nearly puts you in
the movie because of its sheer size. Then when the first
clasp of thunder is heard and the base rumbles your seat,
the experience suddenly takes on a whole new dimension.
When Beast roars, you feel the roar. When the thunder
crashes, you feel surrounded by by its majestic
major pro to the IMAX release is that you can better study
the scenes and will often find yourself moving your head
to focus on different elements. This isn't a small TV
screen and you'll find your eyes often wandering to different
parts of the screen to "take it all in".
everything is "perfect" in this mega large version
of Beauty and the Beast. For example, there is
a slight "shimmering" effect on the stained
glass windows in the opening and closing narrations. The
shimmering is so slight, however, that you may not even
notice it; thus it is a minor issue. The other small problem
is that the background art is huge and as a result it
doesn't look/feel as "real" for the settings
as in the widescreen version. But again, this is only
a minor issue that comes as a natural result of making
the movie bigger. And in the case of Beauty and the
Beast, bigger is better.
Beauty and the Beast is one of the finest movies
ever put out by the Disney Empire. It is unique in many
aspects. Take, for example, how two of the main characters
grow in opposite directions. Gaston starts out as a harmless
person who is conceited and obsessed with his looks. Yet
as the movie progresses you see more of the villain in
Gaston come out. He's no longer harmless. Now look at
the Beast. He's clearly a "villain" at the beginning
of the movie and yet he grows in the opposite direction
of Gaston, learning respect, love, caring, and honor.
Both characters are transformed in opposite directions
throughout the film.
tip my hat to the crew and artists that worked on the
IMAX rerelease of Beauty and the Beast. This is
one "tale as old as time" that is worth a second
viewing in this new format. I highly recommend seeing
it in the IMAX theater and applaud Disney for the care
it took in helping it remain a masterpiece.
Media FX gives the Beauty and the Beast Special Edition
(IMAX) a 10 out of 10 rating, the highest possible on
the dFX Movie Meter. The minor problems are easily overshadowed
by the enhanced experience and there's no doubt that millions
of people will be just as enchanted with this classic.
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