Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Beauty and the Beast

I think when most people hear "Beauty and the Beast" their thoughts run to the stunning Walt Disney version. I remember seeing it shortly after it came out in 1991 and just being blown away. I didn't have the vocabulary at the time to explain it but I loved it. I remember getting it on VHS and watching it and re-watching it. My absolute favorite moments as a kid (which still hold true today) were the prologue, the Beast rescuing Belle from the wolves, the climatic battle on the roof of the castle, and the Beast dying and coming back to life.

I remember it was fun to see all the knick-knacks in the castle fights the people (and the clock with a Napoleon hat sliding down the banister and poking the guy in the rear with a pair of scissors really made me laugh) but it all changed and took a turn for the serious when Gaston kicked open the door to the Beast's room and the Beast just looked at him. What sadness! Glen Keane, the master animator who gave us the Beast, can put so much emotion into so few lines. Take a look at just his rough line work :

Watching the film again as an adult you pick up on some of the silly animation at times, the goofy squash and stretch that's a little too cartoony for me, compared to the weight and solidity of the characters in The Jungle Book, and 101 Dalmatians. But it's fun and it's not really terribly out of place.

Where the film truly shines for me however, are the moments when it takes a step away from the singing household objects and approach the more serious moments, the anger and sadness of the Beast from the prologue, the Beast rescuing Belle from the wolves (and collapsing into the snow) the fight with Gaston, and ultimately the death and life of the Beast. Beyond the silly knick-knacks, the film repays adult watching very well. Take a moment to look at (and listen to) the absolutely stunning rough animation of the Beast dying and coming back to life; secondly Glen Keane's explanation of what he put of himself into the scene :

I love Disney films. They truly are moving art. And while in the past they may have done some questionable things to classic stories (I never cared as much for their Peter Pan or Alice in Wonderland compared to the original stories. Oliver and Company? Wait, you mean Oliver Twist with cats and dogs set in NYC? Billy Joel? What is going on here!)

For all that, I can tell you one thing with utmost certainty -- the story of Beauty and the Beast seriously improved with the Disney telling.

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When I first began planning "Grimm and Other Folk Tales" I knew the story would have a place in the show. I'd never read the original story by Mme Villeneuve but once I began digging into it I realized three tragic things... No, the Beast did not fight wolves in the snow. No, there was not a climatic battle atop a castle. Yes, the Beast limped into the rose garden and died of a broken heart. What! Where are my wolves? Where are my arrows? Where is my rain drenched battle top a castle spire? Sorry folks, but sadly that's how it is. Perhaps another time -- on to the rose garden it is.

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The thumbnail.

The rough.

The color comp.

The finished pencil.

The watercolor underpainting.

Well, even so, rose garden broken-heart-ed death aside, I'm very pleased with this one. The watercolor turned out superbly for what I need and I like the Beast very much. I'm looking forward to finishing this one.

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As always, none of the work I've posted yet is a finished, final piece. These are final drawings and final under-painting but they are all just steps in the process.

I'll be revealing the final work at the show opening (and maybe one or two on my blog before then.)

In production news, I've completed two pieces so far, The Old Woman in the Wood and Snow White. I've not been more proud. Mark your calendars, April 3rd, 2009. Be there! I'll be posting a poster with all the important information soon. I hope you'll be able to make it!

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The Death and Life of the Beast
from Beauty and the Beast

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Next post : Ivan and the Firebird, or my long time fascination with very large birds.

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will kelly said...

This art show sounds so great! I would love to come, but alas, I fear I shall have to play the part of the devoted fan who must stay home.
On another note, is Flight6 still in progress?

Cory said...

I wish you could come man!

Flight 6 (my contribution to it at least) is all done. Look for it in July!

EGE said...

Loved this post Cory. Beauty and The Beast is my favorite Disney - LOVE the transformation scene.
As usual - stunning work.

viagra said...

This is a cute story because it shows us the reality, because I've knew cases where a beautiful girl get married with a man who is considered ugly, so finally I think the beauty is inside of us.m10m