Sandra Stewart There seems to be a trend in movies recently: more interest in the human element, less in hi-tech spectacle. Ironically, two of the best movies I’ve seen in the last couple of years that explore the area of human relationships are cartoons. Both are Disney productions exemplifying the highest standards of artwork, complex musical scores, and a strong storyline. Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin are alike in these ways, but Beauty and the Beast, unlike Aladdin, is a movie with a message. Both movies open with a narrative voice-over, setting the scene.
In each the artwork is wonderful. The story Aladdin begins with the terrifying Tiger-God set against a deep, dark sky sparkling with stars. Even though it’s all drawings, you feel the emptiness of the open spaces, and you know that the villain, Jafar, I really evil. Beauty and the Beast opens by moving the viewer through a forest. You really feel as if you are part of the scenery. Even though it’s all a cartoon, the camera leads the eyes of the audience deeper through the tangled growth of forest bushes. What amazes me is how the cartoonists managed to give depth and perspective to that forest.
In Aladdin the artwork is at its most brilliant in the wild carpet-rides, first through the cave of treasures and then in the romantic flight over the countryside that Aladdin and Jasmine take. In the case of Aladdin, the star is undoubtedly the Genie. The changes in his shape and size are so fast. This is amazing, especially when fluid movement is not sacrificed to that rapid pace. Beauty and the Beast excel in the flowing movements of all it characters, but especially Belle. She moves like a real ballerina with none of the jerkiness you‘d expect from watching Saturday morning cartoons.
In addition, Belle’s face is so expressive. Her acting is better than some Hollywood movie stars. Moods are shown and she has this unruly lock of hair that is always falling across her face and which she brushes aside gracefully. It is this attention to “real” detail that makes this movie s brilliant technically. The quality of the music in each movie is another example of attention to detail. Part of the energy in Aladdin comes from its musical score. The songs, with the exception of the beautiful and romantic “New World,” are really lively and entertaining.
My particular favourites are the ones my little brother likes best, “Prince Ali” and “A Friend Like Me. ” The talents of Robin Willams, who gives voice to the Genie, are really outstanding. Just as Aladdin allows real actors a chance to shine, so does Beauty and the Beast. The spectacular “Be Our Guest” would be a showstopper on stage. Jerry Orbach sings his heart out as lumiere in this particular song. The romantic balled “Beauty and the Beast” is so melodic that my little brother, who was only three and a half at the time, came out of the movie theatre singing it.
Both of the movies are based on really well-loved fairy stories. They have [lots which everyone knows and Disney writers have adapted to suit today’s society. In Aladdin, Princess Jasmine isn’t only a “girl” expecting to be married off. She has her own string personality and demands the right to choose whom she’ll marry. She also helps Aladdin overcome the evil Jafar, so that they can “lice happily ever after. ” However, it is in Beauty and the Beast that the most powerful changers to the fairy tale have been made. Belle is definitely the star of this movie, and again she’s not a week little girl.
In the movie, Belle is a more fully woman who respects education more than good looks, she really despises the “macho” Gaston. Gaston is an addition to the original fairy story and this character really modernizes the plot. Though Gaston, the movie is able to make us think about “jock” behaviors, mob violence, and propaganda. It’s critical of all of these things. Beauty and the Beast has a moral that Aladdin doesn’t. It’s more than a story. This is the real difference between the two movies. Beauty and the Beast shoes how powerful and fragile love is.
Even my little brother knew that this movie showed us that real love is for what a person is and not what a person looks like. He could see that the Beast became a handsome Prince only because he and Belle loved each other. Well, I hope I’ve convinced you to see these movies. They’re both available on DVD. Believe me you’ll enjoy both of them not only because they are spectacular and entertaining, but also because they teach you something about human relationships in a very realistic way. If you’re embarrassed renting them, borrow a kid to accompany you to the local video store. You’ll be glad you did.