Beauty and the Animated Film
The late 1970’s and early 1980’s were a dark time in Disney’s animation history. Animated films were falling out a favor with the public. The animation studio was going through some growing pains as some of the older animators and younger animators kept bumping heads. Disney started hiring big name executives such as Michael Eisner and Jeffery Katzenberg to help get things back in order. Later during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s Disney animated film went through what most would consider a renaissance. In 1989 Disney had its first big animated hit in years with The Little Mermaid. This film was one of the most critically and commercially successful for Disney in years. The Little Mermaid would help Disney refocus on their animation and opened the doors or one of the most historic animated films of all time.
The second film to come out the Disney renaissance was one of the main films driving the renaissance. Disney’s Beauty and the Beast was even more successful than its predecessor and was also nominated for awards including Academy Award for best feature. Beauty and the Beast can be placed in a larger cultural and critical context. By further asking the questions of why Beauty and the Beast is so popular, did it change how Disney films were culturally and critically received, and did it change the way the Disney brand operated it will become clear that Beauty and the Beast temporarily changed the way animated films were received in popular culture for the better.
Starting off with the actual film and using it as a text analysis will be done of the film to show that the story, songs, character and technological advancements made it accessible across age and gender lines that allowed for its popularity at the time. Using critic reviews of Beauty and the Beast during its time in theaters will examine how it was critically during this time. This will include its original showing at the New York Film Festival before its release date and see how Beauty and the Beast was received by that audience. Box office records will also be examined to see how well the film did nationally. An examination of the nominations and awards Beauty and the Beast received along with the prestigious Academy Award nominations and wins will help determine how it was accepted as an art form. This information will also show that Beauty and the Beast changed how the Academy considered animated films and whether or not that was positive or negative. Using current books and articles to see how the film is still being culturally interpreted and received. This will also include how the Beauty and the Beast brand is being used in modern times and how it is translated across media. In summary the analysis presented will show that Beauty and the Beast was treated with more critical respect and cultural acceptance than any animated film that came before it.