Walt Disney sought out other stories to turn into feature films after the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and Beauty and the Beast was among the stories he considered. Attempts to develop the Beauty and the Beast story into a film were made in the 1930s and 1950s, but were ultimately given up because it "proved to be a challenge" for the story team.
Decades later, after the success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit in 1988, the Disney studio resurrected Beauty and the Beast as a project for the satellite animation studio it had set up in London, England to work on Roger Rabbit. At the behest of Disney CEO Michael Eisner, Beauty and the Beast became the first Disney animated film to use a screenwriter. This was an unusual production move for an animated film, which is traditionally developed on storyboards rather than in scripted form. Linda Woolverton wrote the original draft of the story before story-boarding began, and worked with the story team to retool and develop the film.
Upon the theatrical release of the finished version, the film was universally praised, with Roger Ebert giving it four stars out of four and saying that "Beauty and the Beast reaches back to an older and healthier Hollywood tradition in which the best writers, musicians and filmmakers are gathered for a project on the assumption that a family audience deserves great entertainment, too." He ranked the film as the third best film of 1991.
The film was also nominated for Best Sound an Best Picture. It was the first animated film ever to be nominated for Best Picture, and remained the only animated film nominated until 2010, when the Best Picture field was widened to ten nominees. It lost to the critically acclaimed thriller The Silence of the Lambs. Beauty and the Beast was also nominated for several awards, and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy, with two other awards for its music. Famously, Beauty and the Beast was the first ever animated film to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, and was the only animated film to hold this honor until 2009, when the Academy Awards switched from 5 Best Picture nominations to 10, and Pixar’s animated film Up was nominated. Beauty and the Beast received a total of six nominations, including Best Picture, Best Original Score, Best Sound, and three nominations for its song. It ended up winning two, for Best Original Score and Best Original Song for the songs “Beauty and The Beast.”
I have watched Beauty and The Beast movie many times over the past several years, but not until it was on the big screen at the theater did I realize several amazing things about this movie. In the opening the story teller is using stained glass to tell the story of how the prince became The Beast. I have no idea if this is where Heather began her love of stained glass or not, but it sure could be. I wonder if this is part of the reason she created a rose stained glass pattern that is still used by many students at Red Mountain High School.
The most significant part of the opening is that the Enchantress made the rose to last till his 21st year. If The Beast could find love before the last petal fell then the spell would be broken, if not he would remain a beast forever. Heather was 21 when she died and the rose lasted till The Beast’s 21st year. Simply amazing the fact that it happened in the 21st year for both Heather and The Beast.
When Belle finds her father locked in the tower she begs The Beast for his life. She offers herself to take his place. She tells The Beast “take me instead.” The Beast replies that she must stay with him forever. She agrees and it is done. In the blink of an eye, Belle takes her father’s place. I would have given my life for Heather. I think every parent feels the same way. I would have taken Heather’s cancer and her pain if I could have traded places with her. Life is not like the movies and I was not able to make a switch as easy and Belle did for her father.
The ballroom scene is the most breath-taking I have ever seen. It begins as Belle and The Beast walk down the stairs to meet each other at the landing. As they go onto the dance floor, Belle’s dress is a stunning gold and Beast is in a brilliant blue. As they move you are memorized at the beauty that is the two of them. Mrs. Potts sings softly the words to “Beauty and The Beast.” It was beautiful in 1991 when I first saw this movie and it still is today.
The most moving movie in the whole movie comes at the end when The Beast “dies.” Belle is crying, The Beast takes his last breath and the final petal form the rose falls to join the other petals. As Belle pleads with The Beast not to go she utters the magical words, “I love you!” How simple the words are and they end up saving The Beast and turning him back into a prince. Those three simple words mean so much and require such little effort to say but could save a life depending on who says them.
Sunday morning I turned on my phone to find a text message that contained a very special photo. It was a letter written by Heather to Emma, who was a 3 month old baby at the time. Heather had recently taught herself how to knit. She had wanted to make a baby blanket for sweet Emma. It was the first baby blanket she had ever made. She actually only managed to make 3 baby blankets in her lifetime. At the time of this very special first blanket she would have just turned 15 years old. As she states in the letter the third time’s a charm…for blankets and movies...