After so many re-issues you start to wonder what else Disney could possibly trot out for their films but it turns out a seemingly endless amount of extras are available to behold with the new BEAUTY AND THE BEAST the Walt Disney Signature Collection Edition. This commemorative “25th Anniversary Edition” features a host of new bonus material covering a range of topics and also boasts the impressive assortment of extras from prior releases. Plus there’s more than one way to watch this classic feature…
Although marketed as only three, there’s actually FOUR official ways to watch the movie in this newest edition: Original Theatrical; Extended Special Edition with the “Human Again” song sequence; and a never-before-released on home entertainment Sing-Along version. Those are all pretty straight forward but the most interesting is the fourth version which is actually just touted as a bonus feature: “Work-in-Progress”.
“Work-in-Progress” is a really interesting look at a version of the film that featured an incomplete version of the film screened in 1991 before the film was actually finished. It features clean-up frames and storyboards that fill in parts of animation that hadn’t been completed yet. The film is presented as picture-in-picture with the work-in-progress version shown in a tiny thumbnail and the regular version of the film in the regular viewport. I really wish that this would have been done in reverse. Surely, we have three other versions of the film that show the beautiful complete film so it would have been nice to have the option of watching this as the true work-in-progress version.
And technically, if you count Audio Commentary, there’s actually five different ways that you spend watching the entire movie! Sacrebleu!!
And then there’s the bonus features…
Always Belle is really quite a wonderful little piece that is actually a refreshing and welcomed edition to the roster of Bonus Features. The nearly 10 minute piece features the original voice of Belle, Paige O’Hara talking about her life and the series of events that led to her becoming beautiful bookworm in “Beauty and the Beast.” With new interviews with O’Hara plus vintage footage and photos that put together a really great look at what it took to bring to life the voice of one of Disney’s most popular characters.
Menken & Friends: 25 Years of Musical Inspiration is 100% for the music buffs. Disney basically got Alan Menken, Stephen Schwartz, Lin-Manuel Miranda, plus Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez all together in a single room for a magical chat about the history and magnitude of the film and its importance to them. To be in the room on that day had to be a pretty special moment and I only wish that we had the full unedited footage to really get a full appreciation to the conversation instead of the very well-done edited version that is featured here. Fun fact: Lin-Manuel and Bobby Lopez went to school together although they are five years apart in age so they didn’t know each other at the time.
Beauty and the Beast is a tale as old as time and so it’s no surprise that there’s countless of versions that preceded the 1992 Oscar-winning classic. In the 5-minute #1074: Walt, Fairy Tales & Beauty and the Beast featurette we learn about files recovered from the Disney archives for project #1074: Beauty and the Beast. It was a project in development amidst several other brainstorms at the Disney Studio during the 1940s. Until recently there wasn’t much artwork or concept art for this old project but a new piece discovered by artist Kay Nielson gives the only known look into the creation of the story under Walt.
The Recording Sessions is an almost expected bonus feature with archival footage of the actors performing their voice work. This was often used as reference footage to help animators give their animations more “character” inspired by the actual people who did the voice work in the film including Paige O’Hara, Angela Lansbury, David Ogden Stiers, Jerry Orbach, Bradley Pierce, and Richard White. Edited together with songs and action scenes it’s a fun little 4 minute clip.
The obligatory shout-out to the younger set is included here with 25 Fun Facts About Beauty and the Beast. Featuring Disney Channel kidlets Gus Kamp and Kayla Maisonet they take a quirky fast-paced look at little-known fun facts, anecdotes and hidden Easter Eggs from the film.
Perhaps less intriguing in the long-run we also get a “Beauty and The Beast” Sneak Peek offering the first official look into the new live-action reboot of the film.
For the completists out there (present!!), you also get access to over five hours of bonus material offerings from prior home entertainment releases. This includes an alternate version of “Be Our Guest” and the “Beauty and the Beast” music video performed by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson, deleted scenes, and more.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST the Walt Disney Signature Collection Edition is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD.