Beauty and the Beast
Beauty and the Beast is widely considered the best animated Disney feature of the studio's 1980s/1990s renewal of the form. Based on the classic French fairy tale, it tells the story of Belle (voiced by Paige O'Hara), an intelligent young woman scorned by her townspeople for being a bookworm, weary of fighting off the advances of the arrogant Gaston (Richard White), and dreaming of escape. When her father gets lost in the woods and captured by the forbidding Beast (Robby Benson), a once-handsome prince turned into a monster by a witch, Belle goes off to rescue him. Taken with her, the Beast agrees to release Belle's father if she agrees to stay with him forever. Initially repulsed, Belle soon finds much to appreciate in the Beast's hidden, tender nature. The Beast's servants -- a clock (David Ogden Stiers), a teapot (Angela Lansbury), and a candlestick (Jerry Orbach) -- see Belle as their salvation: if the Beast and a woman fall in love before his 21st birthday, he will be free from the curse. The songs are first-class, the tale is told with sincerity but not sentimentality, and the characters of Belle and the Beast, complex individuals who defy stereotyping and change over the course of the story, are more three-dimensional than in most live-action movies. The eye-popping animation is beautifully rendered, and Beauty and the Beast certainly deserves its place amongst Disney's animated classics. In 2002, a special 89-minute edition of the film was released in IMAX theaters with the addition of a newly animated song, "Human Again.""