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Beauty and the Beast, the Epitome of the Disney Renaissance

May 13, 2008
Beauty and the Beast is the 30th animated movie made by Walt Disney Studio. Based on the time-honored French fairytale made popular by Madame Beaumont's story published in 1756, the film premiered at Disney's El Capitan Theater in Los Angeles in 1991. Beauty and the Beast is still one of the best known and beloved films in the Disney canon.

It is the first, and to this date only, full-length animated movie to be nominated by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for Best Picture. Considered the epitome of the "Disney Renaissance" (1998-1994) Beauty and the Beast would come to influence all following films in terms of blending traditional and computer-generated animation. The launching of this renaissance was the release of The Little Mermaid and ended, by and large, with The Lion King.

The American Film Institute ranked Beauty and the Beast as the 22nd best musical of all time and the 34th best romantic movie of all time. Moreover, the United States national Film Registry deemed the film "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." With regards to the greatest songs in movies, the AFI ranked the theme song from the film at number 62.

In different interviews, Disney executives responsible for the production of Beauty and the Beast felt the climate of the culture in 1990 and 1991 was top-heavy with shallow depictions of women as objects. Moreover, they were happy to produce a feature that fought the culturally tendency for young men to be pressured into marrying or dating the "prettier girl." They maintained the moral of the film, that looks aren't everything, spoke to the majority of viewers, accounting for its exceptional box-office success. Indeed, Beauty and the Beast earned $171 million domestically and over $403 million worldwide. It was the third-most successful movie of 1991, overshadowed only by Terminator 2 and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. It was the first animated movie in history to exceed the $100 million mark.

Critical response was generally positive, indeed Beauty and the Beast was one of the best reviewed animated movies ever made. It was lauded as a return to the classic filmmaking Disney had become synonymous with. Roger Ebert praised the film, "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."
About the Author
Steve Collins is an Author and Journalist based in Encino, CA. A huge Disney Fan, he uses the Disney Movie Club to complete his collection. Read his reviews of the DVDs he buys at the Disney Movie Club
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