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Beauty and the Beast
(1991)
Album Cover Art
1991 Original
2001 Special Edition
Album 2 Cover Art
2018 Legacy Collection
Album 3 Cover Art
Composed and Produced by:

Lyrics by:
Howard Ashman

Orchestrated by:
Danny Troob
Michael Starobin

Conducted by:
David Friedman
Labels Icon
LABELS & RELEASE DATES
Walt Disney Records
(Original)
(December, 1991)

Walt Disney Records
(Special Edition)
(December 18th, 2001)

Walt Disney Records
(Legacy Collection)
(February 9th, 2018)
Availability Icon
ALBUM AVAILABILITY
The original album was a regular U.S. release in 1991, but it fell badly out of print in the late 1990's. Duplicate re-pressings solved that problem and it was widely available once again by 2000. The "Special Edition" release of 2001 is not limited in its pressing and was priced at the same rate as the original album. The 2018 "Legacy Collection" set is also a regular commercial release, retailing for under $15.
Awards
AWARDS
The song "Beauty and the Beast" and the score both won Academy Awards, Grammy Awards, and Golden Globes. The songs "Belle" and "Be Our Guest" were also nominated for Academy Awards. The song "Be Our Guest" was nominated for a Golden Globe as well. The score was nominated for a BAFTA Award.
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ALSO SEE





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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... on the definitive 2018 expanded set if you want only the best that the animated musical genre has to offer, for Beauty and the Beast is arguably the top such film of all time.

Avoid it... on the 1991 or 2001 albums if you seek a decently mastered or satisfyingly complete presentation of Alan Menken's melodically rich score for the film.
Review Icon
EDITORIAL REVIEW
FILMTRACKS TRAFFIC RANK: #19
WRITTEN 9/24/96, REVISED 6/19/18
Menken
Menken
Beauty and the Beast: (Alan Menken/Howard Ashman) A fair number of critics have speculated that Disney's 1991 Christmas release of Beauty and the Beast is the best animated film of all time. How the film measures up to the studio's classics of the Golden Age remains under debate, though few would argue that it doesn't shine above the rest of Disney's often impressive output during the renaissance of its musicals in the 1990's. The trilogy of The Little Mermaid, this film, and Aladdin is unquestionable in its cumulative quality, and while these films may not have blown away box office records, they have remained critical and favorites through the years, especially compared to the substandard musical entries to follow. Composer Alan Menken, aided early in his journey by lyricist Howard Ashman, won multiple Academy Awards for all three entries, dominating the Oscars in music awards for several years. But it is Beauty and the Beast that endures as his (and the studio's) crowning achievement. Its high sense of class and style make it one of the easiest of the Disney soundtracks to enjoy repeatedly, and its knack for capturing the enchantment of the film is devoid of the silliness that usually plagued other entries of the era. Most importantly, it proved that The Little Mermaid wasn't a fluke and opened the financial doors for a new era of animated films and their music. There are countless highlights to the music for Beauty and the Beast; among them are an outstanding array of songs weeded out from a larger collection that would eventually form the Broadway production of the concept in 1994, crisp and emotionally powerful performances by the orchestra for most of their non-song contributions, and an intelligent selection of vocal talent led by the resounding voice of Paige O'Hara in the role of Belle. Even in its darkest moments, the score and songs of Beauty and the Beast retain a convincing atmosphere of fairy tale magic (mostly owing to tingling percussion and an uncanny resemblance in writing to Rachel Portman's 1990's style) that was slowly lost in Menken's later scores, conveying its ever-positive tone from start to finish. It also helps that the spoken voices also perform their own singing, an aspect partially lacking in later Menken musicals.

The 1990's and 2000's witnessed several musicals receive three Academy Award nominations for a single film's songs, and Beauty and the Beast largely started this trend. (AMPAS would eventually create a rule abolishing such domination of the category by one film.) In this case, "Belle," "Be Our Guest," and "Beauty and the Beast" were all recognized (the last of which, obviously, winning the award), and Menken earned another, better-earned Oscar for "Best Score." The snare-tapping song of introduction, "Belle," is among the most satisfying and clever cast pieces in history, with a secondary phrase at 2:30 (the fountain sequence) that alone might have earned the song's Oscar nomination. The reprise of this song allows O'Hara to perform the primary phrase of the song at a slower tempo and with full orchestral backing, assisting the scene in mirroring the scope of The Sound of Music. The French setting of the story really takes hold in the villain's song, "Gaston," a surprisingly romantic waltz-like piece that relies on its vocal inflection and humorous lyrics to produce its comedy. The reprise of this song is more of a narrative bridge than a strong extension of the song, but it serves its purpose. The next musical number is the ever popular "Be Our Guest," choreographed like a scene right out of a Busby Berkeley film and flourishing due to a spirited lead performance by Jerry Orbach. Comparatively a lightweight, "Something There" is a fluffy entry that shares many instrumental devices with "Belle" (as well as a reprise of the secondary phrase from that song) and is equally affable. Images of Frankenstein inspire the scenery of "The Mob Song," a call to arms piece with plenty of raucous high brass accompaniment. (It's hard not to recall the incompetent American president George W. Bush when Gaston pronounces "You're either with us or against us.") The final song is the popular title ballad, performed surprisingly well by Angela Lansbury and translating into the pop song heard over the end credits. Lansbury remarkably continued to perform this song in concert more than two decades after the film's release. For the 2001 "Special Edition" release of the film, almost all the original cast was reassembled to perform the French-styled "Human Again," a song for the castle servants originally struck from the film but popular in the Broadway adaptation; it contains the lovely "Romeo and Juliet" scene as an interlude.

On the whole, the songs are all remarkably upbeat, and none of them uses intentionally stupid comedic performances to appeal to children, unlike those that would come later in Menken's career. This seriousness, without compromising the children's aspect of the film, enhanced the soundtrack's appeal to adults as well. The conservatively-rendered pop song was a glimpse at a forthcoming mega-movie song presence for Celine Dion, whose performance of "Beauty and the Beast" made many fans wish that she had been provided it as a solo. The instrumental score is a vast improvement over The Little Mermaid in the quality of writing, performance, and recording. It's not as robust as Menken's own adaptation for the 2017 live-action version of the same score, but many of the symphonic seeds of greatness in that later, fuller work are evident in the 1991 original. Many of the melodies of the songs are used throughout the score tracks, but some are singular to just the score. Others were either inspired by songs ultimately cut from the film or adapted into phrases of the Broadway production's numbers. Rising above several minor motifs, the two major themes restricted to just the score are the "curse theme" and "Beast theme," and both are heard prominently in the famous "Prologue" cue. Easily the best cue in the entire score, the mystique of "Prologue" is aided by David Ogden Stiers, whose serves as narrator as well as with accent in the role of Cogsworth. While the vocal mix is extremely bass heavy and assists the score in its resounding power during the film's opening sequence, a score-only version of this cue has long been desired by fans. (The only way to obtain it is through bootlegs, because no official album has ever offered this instrumental recording). The curse theme is prevalent throughout the cue, though the descending Beast theme makes a pronounced appearance at 1:35. Menken appropriately hints at the title theme at the end of the cue. Also a highlight is "West Wing," which features some of the most dynamic performances of the orchestra in the entire film. It opens with fragments of the "Be Our Guest" melody before turning dark at 1:45 with the Beast theme and following with a brass action motif that smartly works in hints of the title theme. The cue "The Beast Lets Belle Go" also features a brief burst of this action motif, but this portion of the cue is part of 1:30 in length that is cut off the end of the album presentation. A hint of even Gaston's theme is heard upon Belle's saving of her father and return home.

Of the other score cues heard on the original two album releases for Beauty and the Beast, "To the Fair" is the flightiest, a pleasant extension of the themes from "Belle." The "Battle on the Tower" cue offers several dueling themes, but the mixing of this cue is unfortunately far less dynamic than every other in the score, a curiosity that extends across both earlier commercial albums. Pieces of the themes for Gaston, Belle, and "Be Our Guest" lead to the whimsical finale performance of the Belle theme with a final last burst of the Beast's motif. In "Transformation," the curse theme resolves at 2:35 and the Beast theme follows suit at 3:00, turning from the minor key into the major with predictably heroic results. The curse theme becomes a noble fanfare at 3:45 and, following Disney tradition, Menken once again offers a choral reprise of the title theme to close out the film. An alternate version of the first part of this cue was recorded and included on the 2001 "Special Edition" album under the title "Death of the Beast." A lovely viola rendition of the title theme and major key hints of the Beast's theme are presented in the tone of Rachel Portman's later melancholy orchestral techniques. Several significant cues were missing from these early album releases, including "Belle's New Home," an almost two-minute piece with tragic versions of the Belle and curse themes culminating in an important crescendo as the camera pulls back from Belle crying in her new room and the scene concludes with a shot of the castle during a snowstorm. More disappointing an omission is "Gaston's Plan" at about 1:45 in length, the scene directly before the "Mob Song" when Belle's father is being taken away to the asylum. This cue is a very robust instrumental reprise of Gaston's theme and offers a frantic interpretation of Belle's melody as well. Other miscellaneous notes about the score include Menken's nebulous employment of a secondary love theme that, along with the curse theme, eventually became an interlude in the song "Home" on Broadway; parts of this idea also inform "Something There." One of the score's persistent detriments is Menken's liberal use of consecutive cymbal hits to create a sense of wonder, a technique that becomes a tad obnoxious in "West Wing" particularly, especially as the Beast's theme is conveyed. The orchestrations are generally lighter than in Menken's 2017 adaptation, of course, but the 2018 album for the original film contains a better balancing of treble and bass elements than prior offerings, negating some perceptions of sparse orchestrations that linger about the 1991 recording.



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VIEWER RATINGS
14,372 TOTAL VOTES
Average: 4.23 Stars
***** 7,305 5 Stars
**** 4,590 4 Stars
*** 1,478 3 Stars
** 586 2 Stars
* 413 1 Stars
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COMMENTS
14 TOTAL COMMENTS
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Track Order
Rob - May 27, 2011, at 7:53 p.m.
1 comment  (1401 views)
Lengthy version of Introductory musi
yoni ben-ari - August 19, 2009, at 8:34 a.m.
1 comment  (1818 views)
a suite?
Rhiannon Maynes - May 17, 2007, at 6:47 a.m.
1 comment  (2524 views)
Orchestrations
N.R.Q. - January 27, 2007, at 9:53 a.m.
1 comment  (2871 views)
Saint-Seans!!!!   Expand >>
roybatty - October 24, 2006, at 5:11 p.m.
2 comments  (4387 views)
Newest: October 27, 2006, at 1:16 p.m. by
nfs
"Beauty and the Beast" Instrumental   Expand >>
Giovanni Pinuellas - October 11, 2004, at 10:11 p.m.
3 comments  (14839 views)
Newest: February 17, 2008, at 11:44 a.m. by
Anonymous
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Track Listings Icon
TRACK LISTINGS AND AUDIO
Audio Samples   ▼
1991 Original Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 50:12
• 1. Prologue (2:26)
• 2. Belle (song) (5:09)
• 3. Belle (Reprise) (song) (1:05)
• 4. Gaston (song) (3:40)
• 5. Gaston (Reprise) (song) (2:04)
• 6. Be Our Guest (song) (3:44)
• 7. Something There (song) (2:19)
• 8. The Mob Song (song) (3:30)
• 9. Beauty and the Beast (song) (2:46)
• 10. To the Fair (1:58)
• 11. West Wing (3:42)
• 12. The Beast Lets Belle Go (2:22)
• 13. Battle on the Tower (5:29)
• 14. Transformation (5:47)
• 15. Beauty and the Beast - performed by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson (4:04)
(track lengths not provided on packaging)
2001 Special Edition Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 64:48
2018 Legacy Collection Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 121:01

Notes Icon
NOTES AND QUOTES
Scoring Sessions
David Friedman conducts the orchestra at the recording sessions of Beauty and the Beast

The inserts on all 1991-2001 versions of the soundtrack include no extra information about the music or the film. The 2001 "Special Edition" album packaging includes complete lyrics, however. The packaging of the 2018 "Legacy Collection" is extensive, however, with the lyrics joined by sketched artwork from the film and a detailed note from Alan Menken about the project.
Copyright © 1996-2018, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the filmtracks.com site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Beauty and the Beast are Copyright © 1997, 2001, 2018, Walt Disney Records (Original), Walt Disney Records (Special Edition), Walt Disney Records (Legacy Collection) and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 9/24/96 and last updated 6/19/18.
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