January 22nd, 2012

krazy koati

It was that or skin my chauffeurs

I went to Beauty and the Beast, 3-D edition, mostly because when it first came out I thought, well, yeah, The Little Mermaid was incredible but surely it was just a fluke and they'd be doing stuff like The Rescuers Go Antiquing In Waterbury, Connecticut given the chance. I was unfair; they didn't do that until the big direct-to-video sequel rush of the early 2000's. Somehow, after that, I missed catching the movie; I must have had Disney channel in years they just didn't feel like airing it, and never really got into borrowing videos from the library or more unthinkably a video store, and before you know it it's 22 years later.

One of the things surprising me in the film was how fairly light in tone it was. I'd expected a more ponderous movie, something making sure we know there's all these tender things going on. But it's fairly lighthearted, with only a few moments of Belle's feeling trapped serving to ballast the story. Indeed, the villagers scenes are almost entirely comic relief. If the story were any breezier it'd have flown away altogether. Indicative of this, I think, is just how much the minor villagers can have Seven Dwarves-style body types. In later Disney Movies --- with the obvious exceptions of $_EXCEPTION that I'm not thinking of --- the human figures are animated versions, a bit exaggerated, but pretty near the normal human range of anatomies. You don't get, as with Gaston and his sidekick, an adult male three times the size of his sidekick. (Yes, yes, Hunchback of Notre Dame, but he's supposed to be away from the non-cartoony human ideal.)

Another surprise to me was the whole ``Be Our Guest'' sequence, which so far as I know I've never seen before. Honest. I've seen the song repurposed for commercials and parades and other Disney Celebrations of Disney, and seen it parodied to the point that the parody almost obliterates the original, but I don't remember seeing the original before, much less the original in context. I like musicals --- and appreciated how much work the movie did to be musical throughout --- but this was the sort of gorgeous Busby Berkeley-derivative number that I pretty near always love.

The 3-D retrofitting was better-done this time than on The Lion King, with far fewer objects dissolving into blobby masses lurching around. But there's still trouble; for example, where the Beast rips his portrait, his fangs and the tears appear to be about three feet in front of the picture. Perhaps a few more attempts will find some way to reconcile the composition of 2-D animation with 3-D perspective, but I suspect no retrofitting is ever going to be that satisfying.

Of course there's any number of Don't Think About It Or Someone Will Show You The Transformation Fanfic questions about the whole timeline, like, was Chip born as a teacup or what? Because he sure seems to be under ten years old, and the castle was enchanted for a decade, and how would a teapot give birth, and how would any of that work anyway? But again, Don't Think About It Or. Instead I got stuck with the basic injustice for the servants. I mean, there they were doing their jobs until one day their eleven-year-old master is a jerk to a travelling sorceress and then they have to be enchanted soup spoons or whatever. (Also, was the castle desperately overstaffed or did one person have to be the whole silverware ensemble?) There's no answering these questions. There's not much sense asking them.

This makes at least the second film I've seen in which someone turns into an armoire. (The Bed Sitting Room was the first.) I hope there's at least a third so ``tuned into an armoire'' can be decently listed as Wikipedia and TV Tropes categories.

Trivia: Sleeping Beauty was the most expensive animated movie that Walt Disney (the person) produced. It cost about six million dollars. Source: Of Mice And Magic: A History Of American Animated Cartoons, Leonard Maltin.

Currently Reading: The Best Of Destinies, Editor James Baen. I am sorry I cannot adequately convey how wonderfully early-80s the logo is. Or how hilarious is Jerry Pournelle's article about how it's mighty suspicious that those people in the Carter administration and environmentalist movement are suppressing fusion from its inevitable triumph that would take seven, maybe eight years to accomplish because it would be a revolution and we all know how tyrants hate revolutions. (This was their best?)