Beauty and the Beast has its largest historical significance when it comes to its award nominations and wins. The film broke ground in ways that no animated film had ever done before it and changed how every animated film after it was awarded and nominated. Curiously Beauty and the Beast open doors in some ways but locked doors in other ways. Even though animation was garnering respect it seems as though there was a fear that animation would be treated equally to its live action counterparts.
First up were the Golden Globes. Beauty and the Beast was nominated for four awards including two for best original song, one for best original score and one for best motion picture, comedy or musical. It one three out of the four awards it was nominated for mainly because it was in one category twice. This was a huge turning point in Beasty and the Beast’s history and the history of animated film. With these big wins under its belt the hope was the Beauty and the Beast would go on to win the Academy Award for best picture.
Next came the Academy Awards and Beauty and the Beast had six nominations. It had three nominations for best song, one for best original score, one for best sound. There was one nomination out of the six that completely changed the course of animated film history. Beauty and the Beast became the first ever animated film to be nominated for best motion picture by the Academy. This was an amazing accomplishment and showed that the film was considered to be just as good and maybe even better several of its live action counterparts. Beauty and the Beast won two out of the six awards it was nominated for. It won best original song for the title song “Beauty and the Beast” and it won best original score. Beauty and the Beast lost out to Silence of the Lambs. But that was alright because it changed the way that the Academy would view animated film, or so one might think.
The very next year the Academy instituted a new category to the awards. Now there was a Best Animated Feature award. What is hard to figure out is whether or not this was a show of respect to animated film that it deserved its own category. In a way it shows that animated films should win awards and every year since Beauty and the Beast at least one animated film walks away with an Oscar.
However it could be argued that this was to put animated films in their place so to speak. By creating the animated film category the Academy almost insures that no animated film will win best feature. Even in recent years when animated films have been nominated for best feature they win best animated feature instead. In this way Beauty and the Beast completely changed how animated films are seen by the Academy. It made it so the Academy wanted to recognize animated film but as its own separate category away from film.
Beauty and the Beast still has an affective grip on popular culture today. It was the first Disney animated feature to be turned into a Broadway musical in 1994 (Andi Stein, 39). It is also part of the ever growing “Disney princesses” franchise. This particular branding tool creates short films, dolls, and children’s clothes based on the popular Disney princess characters (Stein, 57). Beauty and the Beast has also been rereleased to video and even on the big screen several times. In fact when it was rereleased in 2002 there was an originally deleted song included in the film. Beauty and the Beast is still being rereleased in video format which will include a special 3D blu-ray edition of the film October of 2011. It is still viewed by many as one of the best animated films of all time and is often compared to many animated films today.
In conclusion, Beauty and the Beast came in to the world in a time where the history of animated films as uncertain. Its critical and commercial successes paved the way for the films that came after it. Beauty and the Beast in its first year change how the Academy viewed animated film, how Disney perceived its own brand, and how the world saw animated film. It is unique and inspired which is why it is still popular today.
- Beauty and the Beast. Dir. Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale. 2002. DVD. Buena Vista Home Video.
- Waking Sleeping Beauty. Dir. Don Hahn. 2009. DVD. Buena Vista Home Video.
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