Thursday, September 27, 2012

Beauty and the Beast

Special effects are used so much in movies today that it’s easy to forget how far they’ve come. It may seem strange now, but at one point animation was considered a special effect. The movie Beauty and the Beast is one of the most well-known animated Disney films. It was released in November of 1991and used something called Computer Animation Production System (CAPS). At the time it was some of the most advanced technology being used in movies as far as animation goes. In the case of this movie, the animation is an essential part of the story. Beauty and the Beast is about a prince who has been cursed because of his narcissism. He must learn to love and be loved in return or he will be a beast forever. He meets Bell because she has decided to take her father’s place as his prisoner. As the story unfolds the Beast learns to love Bell, and what it truly means to love another person more than himself. Gaston is the protagonist and has his eye set on Bell. When he finds out about the Beast he leads the whole town to the castle to kill the beast.  This story is aimed at a younger audience and the use of the animation makes this possible. I had never realized it till recently, but this movie would be terrifying if it wasn’t animated. The beast is scary looking and there are a lot of scenes that would scare a small child. There’s a scene where Bell’s father is being attacked by wolves that would be very dramatizing for a small child to witness. Another instance is when Gaston stabs the Beast (Beauty and the Beast, film). Because the characters are animated it’s easier to watch. It’s harder to relate to an animated character because we are not animated characters. As an audience we’re still able to make an emotional connection, but the animation acts as a buffer. Another reason animation is so appropriate for this movie is because a lot of the stunts in this movie wouldn’t have been possible with real people.  The scene at the end when the Beast is turning into a human again has a greater impact than if it was done with humans using the technology back then. This movie was made twenty-one years ago so the levitating and all the colors used during this scene would not have been as easily executed as they would be now. In Understanding Movies by Louis Giannetti, he makes a very valid point about technology: “It’s what they do with the technology artistically that counts, not the technology per se” (35). I think this can really be applied to this movie because looking back, this technology is very old but I think even now it’s more appropriate than Pixar-type animation or real actors.  This story wouldn’t have the same effect or audience if it wasn’t for the animation. No parent is going to take their kids to a movie featuring a massive beast with anger issues. I was reading a review for this movie and the writer made an excellent point about Beauty and the Beast as a whole. The reviewer said “The animation style makes Beauty and the Beast seem like a classic from the glory days of Disney…” (NY Movie Reviews). The writer goes on to state that four years later Toy Story would be released using different technology than used in Beauty and the Beast. To me this reiterated the importance of using CAPS in this movie. The animation is part of what makes Beauty and the Beast such a classic movie. It’s rare now for someone to make an animated movie using this old style of animation. It makes this movie more unique and valuable now.

rating: 5

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