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Toon Talk: Beauty and the Beast Platinum Edition
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Beauty and the Beast
Platinum Edition 2 Disc DVD Set
The LaughingPlace Store
For the second Platinum Edition DVD, it was natural for Disney to choose Beauty and the Beast. After Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Beauty is the most acclaimed and beloved of the modern Disney canon, and nothing less then a feature-packed set would be acceptable by the fans and purists alike.
And there was plenty to cull from, for unlike Snow White (produced in a time where television, let alone home video, was but a gleam in some inventors eye), Beauty had plenty of pre-existing footage and material to include on such a set. But such an embarrassment of riches actually ends up being a drawback for the finished product.
Because Beauty and the Beast is such an acclaimed film, there has been a lot of information about its making available, to those who were interested, for years now. And while the current DVD release does offer a host of extra features, there are few surprises for the hardcore Beauty fan. And while there is a complete section for the discernable film connoisseur which does include such rare footage as the original story reels for Be Our Guest and Human Again, most of it is the standard Disney DVD step by step through the animation process filler that is quickly becoming rote upon each subsequent release. And while this is an understandable inclusion, for not every viewer watches each set, it is the extra gold nuggets, such as the plethora of treasures on the Snow White set, that make each individual volume stand out on the video shelf. Alas, with this Beauty set, one has to do a lot of digging to find those treasures.
For example, while it is commendable that the producers have even included a section on the Broadway version of Beauty, its sparse coverage comes off as little more then a footnote. Instead, we get four DVD games and leftovers from the Disney Channel. It is apparent that the makers of this disc did try to balance the fluff for the kids with the more in-depth stuff for the adult fan, but after watching the set I was left wanting something a lot more substantial then what was cumulatively offered.
By far the biggest misstep was positioning the so-called Special Edition of the film front and center on this set, to the detriment of the far superior original cut of the film (you know, the one that was nominated for an Oscar). Although it was with the best of intentions, the uncomfortable insertion of the Human Again number is still jarring in its cartoony presentation and animation, even more so on the home screen, where it looks like an excerpt from (horrors!) Belles Magical World. Even the audio commentary is available only on the special edition. (Click here for the original Toon Talk review of the Special Edition.)
When you first insert disc 1, it is the Special Edition that comes up first. One has to go looking for the original release (as well as the Work in Progress version, also available here). A better presentation would have been to have the three versions on equal footing at the start of the disc, where one can choose equally between them.
But whichever version you watch and however much you may or may not have known about it prior this set, Beauty and the Beast is still a beautiful, wonderful film filled with emotion, romance, music and warmth, elements it certainly hasnt lost over the years and are vividly on display in this fine video/audio transfer.
It may be true that I, one of those diehard Beauty fans I mentioned earlier, may have expected to much from this release. But after the sterling treatment of the Snow White set last year, who could blame me?