“Once upon a time, in a faraway land” is where one of Disney’s most popular animated classics began. Today Beauty and the Beast is celebrating its 30th anniversary! This movie has touched the lives of countless children and adults alike with its “tale as old as time.” Now without further ado, we shall take a journey back to our childhoods and relive some of our favorite moments.
10. Bonjour/I Want Adventure In The Great Wide Somewhere
“Bonjour” is the song that opens the movie and introduces viewers to this little town where our story takes place. The song itself is light, bouncy and a great fast-paced way to quickly let us see how this world works and how Belle is an outsider. The villagers go about their daily lives, doing the same tasks over and over and Belle longs for adventure and seeks it out in her books. After Belle is proposed to by Gaston we get to truly see her dreams of a world outside what society has in store for her. “I want adventure in the great wide somewhere, I want it more than I can tell.” It is clear as Belle heads for a hilltop singing about her dreams that she will not settle for just being a wife.
It is no secret that Disney has a talent for giving their villains really amazing songs. When it comes to Gaston’s signature theme, it is no different. In one song we learn how vain, narcissistic, misogynistic, and surprisingly calculating Gaston is. It starts off with his sidekick LeFou trying to cheer him up after being publicly humiliated by Belle. With lines that have become infamous like, “I use antlers in all of my decorating,” viewers might be quick to write him off as a self-obsessed pretty boy, but when Gaston starts to reveal his plan to have Belle’s father committed to an asylum, we see how far he is willing to go to get what he wants.
8. Wolf Attack
This particular scene might not seem important to viewers at first but it has a very significant place in the building relationship between Belle and Beast. After Beast gets angry with Belle she decides she cannot stay in the castle one more minute and takes off for the woods on her horse. Soon she realizes her mistake as a wolf pack descends on and attacks her. When it seems like she will meet an unkind fate the Beast roars in and saves her! On their return to the castle Belle tends to the Beast’s wounds and they finally start to see a little something in each other that may lead to more.
7. Prologue Scene
This prologue, in my opinion, is the most beautiful one Disney has ever done. As we hear the narrator’s voice begin the story the camera slowly pushes in on the castle that is nestled in a picturesque forest. Soon we see absolutely gorgeous stain glass windows that show us how an unkind prince was cursed. These stain glass windows have become a trademark for Beauty and the Beast and are easily one of its most well known characteristics. Soon the windows fade into the real world and we see the Beast’s claws rip through a portrait of his old human form. As the prologue comes to an end we hear one of my favorite lines from the movie, “For who could ever learn to love a beast.”
6. The West Wing
One of the first rules that is made very clear to Belle upon her arrival at Beast’s castle is to stay away from the west wing. We all know how well a person who seeks adventure listens. While strolling around the castle with Lumiere and Cogsworth, Belle’s curiosity gets the better of her and she sneaks away. Soon she is met with deep slash marks down the walls, portraits and curtains torn to pieces. This is the one place in the castle where the evidence of the sadness, turmoil, and anger the Beast has felt because of the curse is clear. Suddenly a faint red glow catches her eye and she sees the rose under its glass dome with the fallen petals. She lifts the glass to get a better look, viewers may find themselves yelling “no” as she reaches to touch the rose. With a shocking growl the glass dome is slammed down before she has the chance and the Beast’s angry face comes into view. His control is lost as he yells at Belle about what she could have done and soon she runs in fear. As soon as she is out of view you can see the regret clearly in the Beast’s face. This scene is key in understanding the Beast’s character and all he has experienced through this curse and basically why he is so angry with himself.
5. Something There That Wasn’t There Before
Every romance needs a good montage and this song fills that spot perfectly. As we hear the first few notes of “Something There,” we see Belle and the Beast trying to enjoy a nice meal together. We get a glimpse at how the Beast trys to be better for Belle and she meets him halfway. Whose heart didn’t melt a little when the Beast attempted to feed the birds? Viewers watch as little moments lead to the two seeing each other in a different light that may be leading toward something more. The snowball fight scene is simply adorable. While Gaston frowned on Belle’s reading, the Beast happily lets her read to him by the fireplace. Their growing affections towards one another doesn’t seem rushed and seeing the Beast smile will make anyone root for the couple.
4. Be Our Guest
You know this song absolutely had to be on this list! When you mention Beauty and the Beast, “Be Our Guest” is normally the song that will spring to people’s minds first. Lumiere and Mrs. Potts convince Belle to leave her room for some food. Much to Cogsworth’s dismay the entire castle sees this as their first opportunity in years to entertain someone. With Lumiere taking center stage, Belle is treated to a feast for the eyes as dishes, utensils, napkins, and cups sing and dance for her. As a child watching this movie, we all wanted to taste the gray stuff to see if it really was delicious. When the crescendo hits even Cogsworth finds himself joining in the festivities! Viewers get to see how many members of the castle staff has been effected by the curse and how long they have been waiting for someone to break it. This is the song that you find yourself singing while cooking for family or friends because it stays with you long after the credits have rolled.
3. The Library Surprise
When I asked fans about their favorite Beauty and the Beast moments this scene came up a lot! Personally this is my favorite moment in the film. As a child sitting in the theater for the very first time, watching this scene affected me in a way that sticks with me to this day. When the Beast realizes he cares for Belle deeply he decides to give her a gift that will mean the most to her. The excitement is clear on his face as he leads her into the dark room asking her to keep her eyes closed. As the curtains are pulled back and Belle opens her eyes we see one of the most beautiful and impressive libraries ever shown on film. Belle gasps and the audience can see that she feels truly happy and at home in the castle now that she has something of her own. Four-year-old me had stars in her eyes seeing that library and I decided when I grew up, I was going to be a librarian, specifically of the Beast’s library. Ever since then, book worms everywhere have strived, dreamed, and sought after of a library like this.
2. A Tale As Old As Time
Disney has created many cinematically beautiful moments over the years but few have matched this ballroom scene. As the Beast and Belle greet each other on the staircase, viewers watch as this iconic dance begins with the first few notes of “Tale As Old As Time.” Angela Lansbury’s Mrs. Potts was the perfect choice for this sweet song that recaps how far this couple has come and how deeply they have grown to care for each other. As they enter the ballroom it is clear Disney’s animators outdid themselves. Whether it is the gorgeous architecture, the ceiling mural, the windows showcasing the night sky or Belle’s iconic dress this scene is a feast for the eyes. Seeing how unsure Beast is as he first takes Belle in his arms soon melts away as they spin confidently around the ballroom looking into each other’s eyes. We all felt similar to Lumiere and Cogsworth as they look on so proud of the couple and how sweet they are together. It is easy to see why so many fans of the film have used this song in their own love stories.
1. Beast’s Transformation
Choosing a number one moment was not easy but at the same time I can’t see it being anything else. We have followed Belle and Beast through their first meeting, angry outbursts, fearless rescues, growing feelings, and the selfless act of letting go. This final act of the movie is action packed with the attack on the castle lead by Gaston, who mortally wounds the Beast as Belle tries to stop him. As the rain falls we watch the Beast take his last moments to express how happy it made him that Belle returned so he could see her one last time. We see the Beast’s paw falling away, making Belle realize that he is gone, and that she waited too late to tell him how she felt. With tears streaming down her face and the words “I love you,” we see the last petal fall from the rose as Lumiere, Cogsworth, and Mrs. Potts realize their master is gone.
Suddenly streaks of light begin to fall with the rain around Belle as she lays crying over the Beast’s body. Soon his body begins to float slowly into the air as a glow surrounds him. With his cloak wrapping around him viewers see as the Beast’s paws transform into human hands and feet as light encompasses him. Fully transformed, the Beast is now Prince Adam and Belle isn’t sure what she just witnessed. It is only when she gazes into his blue eyes that she knows so well that she recognizes her Beast. With a kiss, the castle and servants all turn back into their previous forms as we get to witness a classic happily ever after.
It was such a joy to get to revisit my favorite Disney classic for the 30th anniversary. Over the last three decades the influence of Beauty and the Beast can be seen clearly in pop culture. With countless retellings and remakes, people just love the story of a beauty and a beast falling in love. Belle showed girls everywhere that loving books and thinking for yourself is a powerful and important thing in this world. I will always credit this movie for helping to cement my love of books and libraries at such a young age. If you’d like to have your own 30th anniversary celebration, you can find Beauty and the Beast currently streaming on Disney+. Also I highly recommend trying the official gray stuff recipe from Disney, it is indeed delicious. Make sure to follow Nerds & Beyond to stay up to date on any and all news!