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Toon Talk: Beauty and the Beast Diamond Edition Blu-Ray
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by Kirby Holt (archives)
October 5, 2010
Kirby reviews the eagerly anticipated Diamond Edition release of Disney's classic Beauty and the Beast.
Toon Talk: Disney Film and DVD Reviews
by Kirby C. Holt


Beauty and the Beast
Diamond Edition

Disney Blu-ray
MPAA Rating: G

Ever a Surprise

After nearly 20 years, one would think we had seen all that Beauty and the Beast had to offer. Au contraire, mon amis (as Lumiere would say), just wait until you see Disneys contemporary crown jewel in its latest glittering incarnation: the Disney Blu-ray Diamond Edition (available this week).

Newly restored in high definition, youll see the modern animated classic spring to life in the format; the storybook settings, rich in previously unseen depth, pop out like, well, a pop-up storybook. From the golden fields of Belles farm to the deep shadows of the Beasts castle, the films color palette has never appeared so lush. No question about it, this Beauty is quite a beauty.

All three versions of the award-winning film are included in the Diamond Edition. In addition to the original 1991 theatrical release, there is the Special Edition (first seen in large format venues in 2002). This extended version includes the restored musical sequence Human Again which, sad to say, still sticks out like a sore thumb. The third option is the work in progress print that was screened, prior to the films official debut, at the New York Film Festival. Here it is conveniently presented as a picture in picture alongside the final film. Additionally, you can also add to your viewing pleasure with the audio commentary (carried over from the 2002 Beauty Platinum Edition DVD) and an optional sing along mode.

The new release also offers, for the first time on Blu-ray, Disneys Fast Play. This enhanced smart feature tracks your viewing preferences and can also be manually customized. Its so smart in fact, that it will remember what type of features you like to watch on the next, different Fast Play-enabled Disney Blu-ray you play. How? Disney magic, I guess

More Blu-ray goodies can be found in the two-disc sets bonus materials, almost all of which are new. Most notably among them is the epic Beyond Beauty: The Untold Stories Behind the Making of Beauty and the Beast, which takes full advantage of Blu-rays current technology to offer an in-depth and totally engrossing entertainment experience. This disc two interactive feature allows viewers to delve deeper into the behind the scenes secrets of the creation of Beauty with additional material, seamlessly bridging back and forth between the main documentary and its supplemental chapters.

In addition to the usual DVD bonuses (such as art galleries and deleted scenes), youll find within Beyond Beauty such unexpected treats as four of Walts rare Laugh-O-Gram cartoons, an in-depth examination of Disneys fairy tale legacy, video interviews with the supervising animators about the creations of their characters, two Silly Symphony shorts, and even a brief history of the art of animation. However, the highlight is a bittersweet tribute to Beautys executive producer and Academy Award winning lyricist, the late great Howard Ashman. In addition to recent interviews with his sister Sarah Ashman-Gillespie and partner Bill Lauch, the touching profile includes family photos, Howards demo recordings of Beauty songs and video footage from his memorial service.

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