|3.||Belle (Reprise)||Richard E White||1:05|
|4.||Gaston||Richard E White||3:40|
|5.||Gaston (Reprise)||Richard E White||2:04|
|6.||Be Our Guest|| Alan Menken & Howard Ashman||3:44|
|7.||Something There||Paige O'Hara||2:19|
|8.||Human Again||Angela Lansbury||4:54|
|9.||The Mob Song||Richard E White||3:30|
|10.||Beauty And The Beast|| Alan Menken & Howard Ashman||2:45|
|11.||To The Fair|| Alan Menken & Howard Ashman||1:58|
|12.||West Wing|| Alan Menken & Howard Ashman||4:25|
|13.||The Beast Lets Belle Go|| Alan Menken & Howard Ashman||2:22|
|14.||Battle On The Tower|| Alan Menken & Howard Ashman||5:28|
|15.||Transformation|| Alan Menken & Howard Ashman||5:49|
|16.||Be Our Guest (Demo)|| Alan Menken & Howard Ashman||3:29|
|17.||Beauty And The Beast (Work Tape & Demo)|| Alan Menken & Howard Ashman||3:58|
|18.||Beauty And The Beast||Celine Dion & Peabo Bryson||4:07|
|19.||Death Of The Beast (Original Early Version)|| Alan Menken & Howard Ashman||1:29|
| ||64:42| Submit your review
I think it would be fair to say that Beauty and the Beast is one of the finest animated films ever made. The only animated film ever to be nominated for a best film Oscar and perhaps the perfect realisation of the Disney formula. In this case, comedy side kicks, talking objects and singing all work since it's fantasy and all add to both the atmosphere and story. The castle is enchanted, it's a fairytale and unnatural breaks for songs can and do work - the fact that the songs are superb, further the plot or concisely introduce characters doesn't hurt either. Unlike in Mulan for example, where a talking dragon and songs work against the epic storyline, here their reinforce the whole magical atmosphere.
Over ten years after the original release, Disney have re-released a kind of directors' cut of Beauty and the Beast which inserts a new song, spruces up the image and sound so it can be seen in the giant IMAX format. Given how dreadful most IMAX films are, having such a fine film playing at IMAX theatres should boost the fledgling format. Sadly, I've not managed to see the film in IMAX so will have to content myself with the DVD. The new musical addition is Human Again, a song cut from the original due to time constraints (not wanting to pass the mystical 90 minute barrier), but one that became very popular from the stage show (musically great, but unfortunately over the top otherwise). Indeed, it's a great song and both furthers the plot while giving some hint into the enchanted objects desire to become, well, human again. It's all told with Howard Ashman's typically witty and twisty lyrics. His death is perhaps one of the most tragic things to happen to Disney films, few have managed to match his consistently brilliantly word play and Disney music hasn't fully recovered since.
The remaining original songs are of course all present re-mastered, although the re-mastering of the score sections is most notable. From the opening Belle, introducing the leading lady and setting up the plot by Gaston to make Belle his wife, then Gaston's own song which is perhaps the most narcissistic song in a Disney film ever. It does tend toward self parody being so over the top, but Gaston makes for such a monstrous and egotistical villain that it seems only appropriate. The only song I never liked quite so much was the Mob Song, although I can't honestly say for sure why as it's an effectively threatening marching song which sets up the final assault on the Beast's castle superbly. In between there's the charming Something There, much underrated I feel and the outrageous Be Our Guest, which has now passed into popular culture. The centrepiece ballad is a cut way above average for its type, even if it set the scene for a yearly Animated Ballad Oscar for best song. This was one of the few genuinely worthy, although for me, the gentle film version sung by Angela Lansbury is preferable to Peabo and Celine's slightly over egged pop rendition.
The score is the right balance between drama and comedy. Menken's comedy scoring can be a little wearing at times, but for the most part, his comedy scoring here is playful without being too fraught. The more dramatic sections such as West Wing and The Beast Lets Belle Go are the real stand outs, although the finest moment is undoubtedly Transformation. One of the most beautifully scored sections in any film, the moment when Belle confesses her love for the Beast and he transforms back into the Prince is a truly spine tingler (yes, I even cried in the film when it happens). This special edition album contains a few extra cuts including an early version of The Death of the Beast which is maybe just a little cheerful, but not really much less effective and with a gorgeous little cello solo at the beginning. The two demos of Beauty and the Beast and Be Our Guest are great fun, although quite why the end titles version of the title song is after them I'm not entirely sure. The bonus tracks would certainly be better placed right at the end in this case.
If like me you have the Music Behind the Magic boxed set and the stage musical then the only new track will be the film version of Human Again, but for those Menken completists I suspect it's still going to be an essential purchase. Even if you only own the original release then the extra tracks are well worth hearing, it's just a shame they didn't include a few extra score cues (such as the wolf chase included on the boxed set), but it's still a superb album and probably the best of the Menken-Ashman partnership. An essential purchase.
Beauty and the Beast, one of Disney's best so far, is perhaps the only one of Disney's animated films that really deserves to be called a musical. No other animated production from Disney has the same amount of "real" musical numbers, reminiscent of the big opera and musical numbers, with a lot of people "on stage", all with their own parts to sing. "Belle", is an excellent example. Menken and Ashman perfectly re-creates the small town feeling - everyone knows one another, gossiping wildly, and so on. A definite highlight. As is the dramatic "The Mob Song", performed by the enraged villagers, with Gaston leading the way, who we get to know in "Gaston", which is a upbeat piece, performed by Gaston and his henchmen. Could be a really entertaining song, wasn't it for Ashman's incredibly silly lyrics. I know that Disney's films primarly are directed towards kids, but even so... Then there's the wonderful "Be Our Gest", with a superb Jerry Orbach as Lumiere, reminiscent of the classic French show numbers. As for the smaller songs - being "Something There" and "Beauty and the Beast" - they are both really good. The latter really has the potential to be a superb song, hadn't Angela Lansbury somewhat ruined it with her singing. "Something There" is an entertaining, upbeat song, performed mainly by Paige O'Hara as Belle and Robby Benson as the Beast, with a very distinct Christmas feel to it (largely thanks to the use of bells).
What makes the soundtrack release of Beauty and the Beast so entertaining is the perfect match of songs and score, as they are written and arranged in the same style. Material from the songs are used in the score, and vice versa, making the soundtrack a very enjoyable, coherent listening experience. The CD is an excellent example of good producing and judgement. No disturbing, irrelevant, pop songs - except for the Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson version of the title song, tucked to the end of the album, that is. This was before Disney Records and other labels started to pollute their soundtrack releases with many different versions of the same song.
Menken's instrumental music is really good. Both dramatic, upbeat, sweet and beautiful. The wonderful "Tranformation" is a real gem - one of the best cues Menken has ever written for a Disney film - as is the background music for the "Prologue", with it's magical fairy tale theme, which makes an apperearance in the cue "West Wing" as well.
The music of this soundtrack was used in: Lilo & Stitch
Other releases of Beauty and the Beast (1991):
Soundtracks from the collection: Kids