Ten years ago, a decade after its initial release, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast got the IMAX treatment. A further ten years on, it’s now gotten the 3D treatment. It’s completely superfluous — one of the joys of its animation back in 1991 was that it looked 3D even in 2D — but whatev. As with every other 3D conversion of older classic films, it’s the chance to see a wonderful movie once more up on the big screen that’s the real reason to revisit it. (Though I despair that only serious movie geeks care much these days about seeing films in a cinema. I can’t blame ordinary moviegoers to switching to home video — tickets are way too expensive for an experience that is all too often marred by screaming babies, inconsiderate talkers, and the glare of smartphone screens — but I do lament that, a few event movies aside, moviegoing is no longer a universal activity.) I won’t repeat what I wrote in my 2002 review of the IMAX edition, all of which still holds: this is a magnificent film, damn near perfect in every respect, from the subversive thrill of actually hearing a female character onscreen demand “so much more than this provincial life” to startlingly inventive little touches such as Lumiere shushing candles and seeing them dim their flames. Is this how synesthetes experience the world? I love how the wild ingenuity of Disney’s animators make me think such things. I also love how, after umpteen viewings, this latest one made me speculate about aspects of the story that had never occurred to me before. Like: How unfair is it that all the castle’s servants are punished for the Prince’s unkindness? If there’s a prince, where are the king and queen… and if there is no king and queen, then why isn’t the Prince the king? Most importantly, though: Will Belle get the adventurous life she wanted being married to the Prince? Just what is Belle’s life like after what happens to her here? And is she ready to rebel again twenty years later? There’s a sequel to this tale that I’d love to see…
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