Beauty and the Beast

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Postby Akash » Tue Apr 17, 2007 1:35 pm

Sabin wrote:Comparing this story to "Hamlet" is outrageous; at least the Danish prince had some activity going on upstairs.

And downstairs too, let's not forget. Incest, queer potential and rape fantasies are all part of Hamlet, while Simba is a thoroughly sexless character. In fact the only thing sexily interesting about The Lion King is Scar's potential homosexuality.

Okri, I criticized it for cribbing Hamlet and being so dull about it. Father dies at the hands of brother who usurps the throne, son falls into an aimless delayed revenge plot (with Pumbaa and Timon as nicer versions of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern), rejects his Ophelia (but of course in Lion King she reunites with him instead of suicide), father's ghost appears to set things right, the wise "fool" (Rafiki) intervenes and resets the revenge plot that should lead to prince's demise (but in Disney we get his triumph instead). Anyway my point was that this wasn't so much a Hamlet modernization but Hamlet reduced to its least interesting elements,

And I actually think Beauty and the Beast is plenty original given the confines of its original source.

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Postby Akash » Tue Apr 17, 2007 11:41 am

Sabin wrote:This film is literally everything I hate about children's entertainment. I'm rather surprised it wasn't nominated for Best Picture.

LOL. But of course that omission would be more admirable had the Academy not nominated The Shawshank Redemption and eventual Best Picture winner Forest Gump, whose early canonization and popularity is even more puzzling than the general love for The Lion King, and whose main theme is prescient (or perhaps complicit?) in the 2000 victory for George W Bush: the idea that even a mental deficient can bumblefuck his way into American history (as long as he's Southern and white, natch).

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Postby Sabin » Mon Apr 16, 2007 11:06 pm

I hate 'The Lion King'. There's no reason to see it more than once outisde of some admittedly beautiful animation. It's generic Disney-lite and genuinely racist in intent.

Mufasa's proud, intelligent pride is threatened by a snake in their midst. Scar, the "black sheep" as it were, dares to fraternize with the dirty outsiders, the hyenas. Dirty, lazy, laughing mongrels with respect for nothing, and they orchestrate a hostile takeover of the pride.

I realize this is an animated child's film, but the subtext of 'The Lion King' is problematic. I wouldn't mind it nearly as much were the film not so goddamn annoying. Outside of Jeremy Irons, the voice over talent in 'The Lion King' (Broderick especially) is so pale. It's the whitest movie about Africa ever. Were Simba a remotely interesting protagonist, it might feel like something was at stake. His gradual call to arms is emotionally uninteresting. Comparing this story to "Hamlet" is outrageous; at least the Danish prince had some activity going on upstairs.

This film is literally everything I hate about children's entertainment. I'm rather surprised it wasn't nominated for Best Picture.
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Postby Okri » Mon Apr 16, 2007 10:32 pm

Insipid songs awkwardly inserted into the narrative


I enjoy the songs. I find myself singing "Be Prepared" all the time. It certainly doesn't match Beauty's song score (though, yeah - I love Zimmer's contribution, though he clearly should give his oscar over to Newman. Than take the one won by Life is Beautiful.

a Hamlet-lite plot with no originality and without any of that play's existentialism, humor or wit


Woah, just so we're clear. You're simulatenously criticizing The Lion King's lack of originality in a thread that praises Beauty and the Beast AND criticizing it for not measuring up to Shakespeare's Hamlet, arguably the best piece of writing in English literature?

I found the journeys the characters go on incredibly moving... so much so I tear up by the end. I like the fact that it's basically Hamlet for kids (but I'm a sucker for Shakespearean modernizations).

a rather uncomfortable subtext on the feminizing of the intellectual and a distasteful project of masculinity (Mufasa = good, Scar = bad)


Yeah, I missed that completely... not the good Mufasa bad Scar part, but the rest.

a love story that serves no purpose and feels as forced as any of the other relationships


I can't disagree here.

a dull ending


Like I said earlier, I love the climax and ending.

Pretty much the only thing I liked about The Lion King was the beautiful animation, particularly the stampede scene.


And here's where we agree again. I loved the animation the most. The "Circle of Life" number, "Be Prepared," the stampede, Mufasa in the stars... the ending. All these moments were imprinted into my ten year orain, and a recent re-viewing did nothing to change that. It's not as great as the Toy Story films, or most of Miyazaki's work, but I love it like it was.

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Postby rudeboy » Mon Apr 16, 2007 9:18 am

I haven't seen Beauty & the Beast since it first came out and while I enjoyed it a lot, it was a bit of a disappointment after the acclaim and oscar attention (it didn't open in the UK until late in 1992). Very little of the music lingered in my mind (although I do remember loving Gaston's big number) and I've never had much desire to see it again. Having said that, in hindsight, it seems almost surprising that it didn't win based on a combination of the novelty value, the fact that most people seemed to love it and the fact that none of the other nominees, for varying reasong, were obvious winners. I recall an interview with Jamie Lee Curtis on TV shortly after nominations were announced in which she said she and a group of people she knew were voting for it, and I also think some of the British critics predicted it for the win. I think it's quite likely it finished second.

On the other hand, I absolutely love Aladdin, which is not only, for me, Disney's fastest and funniest animated movie by a mile, it also boasts what is by far my choice for finest cartoon score betwixt my personal benchmarks, The Jungle Book and South Park.

Starting with The Lion King - which has it's moments but is a dreary whole - I rapidly lost interest in Disney's contribution to animation.

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Postby The Original BJ » Mon Apr 16, 2007 12:15 am

I like The Lion King, too. The animation is gorgeous, it's often very funny, and I think it's a deeply moving and spiritual film as well. That said, the romance IS perfunctory, the film's subtle (well, maybe not so subtle) racism is troubling, and I could have done without some of the flatulence humor. But I'd never go so far as to call the film's songs insipid (though Elton John is CLEARLY no Alan Menken). And Hans Zimmer's score is lovely. I think it's a lot of fun.

But I also like The Hunchback of Notre Dame a lot. It is, I think, an even a more mature film than Beauty and the Beast. The issues of religious hypocrisy and sexual obsession give the film a tremendous dramatic heft, and, as has been said before, the score is beautiful. It seems very clear to me why mainstream audiences were disappointed, though, and why more intellectual filmgoers prefer it to some of Disney's more popular fare.

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Postby OscarGuy » Mon Apr 16, 2007 12:04 am

I'll post something on HoND later. Just watched it for the first time in a number of years (after having just finished NDdP).
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Postby anonymous1980 » Sun Apr 15, 2007 11:45 pm

I loved The Lion King.

*runs away*

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Postby Akash » Sun Apr 15, 2007 5:30 pm

Really Okri? Because it's Lion King that seems like the real bore to me. Insipid songs awkwardly inserted into the narrative, a Hamlet-lite plot with no originality and without any of that play's existentialism, humor or wit, a rather uncomfortable subtext on the feminizing of the intellectual and a distasteful project of masculinity (Mufasa = good, Scar = bad), a love story that serves no purpose and feels as forced as any of the other relationships, a dull ending...where do I stop? Pretty much the only thing I liked about The Lion King was the beautiful animation, particularly the stampede scene.

To each his own I guess. Certainly there are more people who would agree with you than with me.

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Postby Okri » Sun Apr 15, 2007 4:16 pm

(though I must say I do still love The Little Mermaid and I'm glad Sabin that you appreciated The Hunchback of Notre Dame too. The film is usually considered lesser Disney by the same no-taste crowd that adores the dreck that is The Lion King).


A crowd of which I'm apparently a member, because I adore The Lion King to this day whereas Hunchback of Notre Dame bores the hell out of me.

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Postby Akash » Sun Apr 15, 2007 2:42 pm

Sabin wrote:A word though: 'Hercules' is a lot of fun.

Agreed. Mostly because they lampooned themselves, and the movie is saved by James Woods, the Muses and the wonderfully wily, witty and angular Meg. But the film is hobbled in its delightful stride by a title character no one cares about and who feels as hollow as the "list-check" supporting bumbling sidekicks in The Lion King, the gargoyles in Hunchback or whatever the hell Eddie Murphy was doing in Mulan.

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Postby OscarGuy » Sun Apr 15, 2007 12:30 pm

Many of us believed it would get nominated, but were uncertain if they would have the balls. I think it was among my predictions and a lot of prognosticators were saying it had a great chance at it, but most everyone believed the Academy might just overlook it.

I remember well (and can even go back and watch it over and over if I wanted on tape) that Oscar nomination morning when they announced B&B as a nominee for Best Picture. The loud cheers and applause were one of the few clear signs that the Academy got something right. It happens less frequently now, but it's amazing to hear the reaction of the crowd sometimes.
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Postby The Original BJ » Sun Apr 15, 2007 12:17 pm

I have a question: was Beauty and the Beast's Best Picture nomination a surprise at the time? And how big of one? After winning three Globes, did pundits give it serious Best Picture consideration, or were most pegging that spot to go to Thelma & Louise?

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Postby Sabin » Sun Apr 15, 2007 10:48 am

Always wondered about that, Magilla.

'The Hunchback' is only lesser Disney in the sense that its box office was modest at best (domestically, mind you; overseas it was a phenomenon in what is the first true year of the Summer Blockbuster), critical reaction was somewhat mixed, and the film scared the shit out of children. The latter of which I love, and is indicative of everything that works in the film. It's a scary piece of work. "Hellfire" especially is astonishing and I don't expect to see another musical sequence like it to come our way in an animated film any time soon.

I hate 'The Lion King'. Even as a kid. 'Aladdin' is enjoyable but a truly racist film, and fairly uneven. 'Pocahontas' is soporific. 'Beauty and the Beast' really is the gold standard, and although I understand Damien's condemnation of animated films, ye gods, if he hasn't seen 'Beauty and the Beast' I don't know how much I can back what he has to say.

Disney's 'The Hunchback' does a lot of things I don't like. The gargoyles are extremely annoying. Extremely annoying. Everything I found uneven about the anthropomorfic servants in 'Beauty and the Beast' fighting back the hordes, I find extra-double-shitty in this one. Whether or not it "works" (which it doesn't), it exemplifies everything tarnished in corporate thinking. "Fine, you can have your rich Parisian epic, but you'd damn well better have some goofy sidekicks no matter how asinine." If Quasimodo is going to have figments of his imagination come to life, they'd better be a whole lot weirder and darker.

That being said, Alan Menken's score for 'The Hunchback' is second only to 'B&B' in my estimation. The opening sequence to this day stands my hairs on end, the use of light and design makes the film just a joy to look at, and the way the Parisians are animated en masse is still pretty outstanding. The character designs are all distinct and singular, and the voice work is deceptively spot on. I don't really approve of Tom Hulce making Quasimodo sound like a pussy in lieu of a genuinely deranged individual, but, well, it's a Disney film. Kevin Kline is especially fun, and Tony Jay's Frollo is still a whacked out walking polemic that I'm fairly astonished they tackled head-on. Again: "Hellfire" is a contemporary "Elephants on Parade".

A shame the songs are so drippy and the gargoyles were so cutesy, or it'd be something I could embrace without caveat. To this day, I miss Howard Ashman. You can even tell what songs in 'Aladdin' are graced with his genius and what are destined for Celine Dion/Peabo Bryson infamy.

A word though: 'Hercules' is a lot of fun.
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Postby Big Magilla » Sun Apr 15, 2007 9:12 am

I, too, liked the Disney version of Hunchback of Notre Dame, but nothing can top the immortal 1939 classic with Charles Laughton as Quasimodo, Maureen O'Hara as Esmeralda, Thomas Mitchell as the king of beggars, Edmond O'Brien as Gregoire and Cedric Hardwicke as Frollo. Laughton's nuanced, tortured performance, played almost entirely without dialogue, is one of his best and one of the finest ever captured on film. That he was knocked out of the best actor race by Mickey Rooney in Babes in Arms is one of Oscar's cruelest jokes. The film was nominated for two richly deserved ones, however, for Alfred Newman's unforgettable score and for the even more unforgettable sound - once heard, you can never quite get those bells out of your head.
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