Beauty & The Beast (1991)

Genre: Fantasy | Age: 5-7


Ages 4 & under Probably Not
Ages 5 to 7 Yes
Ages 8 to 9 Yes
Ages 10-12 Yes
Ages 13-15 Probably
Ages 15-17 Too Silly

Beauty & The Beast (1991)

ANIMATED FAIRY TALE: 1991, G. Disney’s retelling of the classic tale about a teenage prince, unkind and selfish, who is cursed to remain beastly until he learns to love. If he can find someone to love him before his 21st birthday, we will be redeemed, if not, he will remain a beast forever. In an 18th-century French town live bookish Belle and handsome, macho Gaston who wants her for his wife. Belle’s inventor father gets lost on his way to the fair and stumbles into the Beast’s castle. Inside, household items come to charming life: Lumière the candlestick, Cogsworth the clock, maternal Mrs. Potts the teapot and the sprightly little teacup, Chip, and welcome him. However, the Beast is very unfriendly and takes him prisoner. Belle comes to rescue him and agrees to take his place. At first she despise the beast, but slowly both hearts soften until love and caring blossoms despite appearances. Her father tries to recruit help, but sneaky Gaston takes advantage of the situation and threatens to commits him to an insane asylum unless Belle becomes his wife. Refused and jealous, Gaston tries to kill the Beast. In the final battle, the Beast is without will until Belle returns and then he kills Gaston. Through Belle’s love, the Beast and the household are returned to their original form.

VIOLENCE/SCARINESS: Hunter Gaston is shown with a gun. Bats and wolves beset Belle’s father in a harrowing ride through the forest. The Beast is ugly and charming at the same time, yet throws violent tantrums that destroy large chunks of his castle. Later, Belle is attacked by very scary wolves, rescued by the Beast who fights them but collapses from his wounds. The battle between Gaston and the Beast is very violent: Gaston falls to his death, screaming.

CRIMES: Bribery (P), Kidnapping (U), Blackmail (P), Attempted Murder (P).

MORALS, ISSUES & VALUES: The naive prince judges everything by appearances and thus is cursed by an old woman who he rejects. Gaston bribes the asylum keeper to commit Belle’s father to blackmail her into marrying him. Belle’s access to Beast’s library is the first real bridge to their love. Belle is bored by her country town. According to the film: Beauty is found within. Books are mightier than brawn. As part of growing up, Belle must balance her love for her father with the love for the Beast. Courage will get you through.

SEXUALITY & GENDER ISSUES: Single parent family, nuclear family achieved. Belle is bored by her country village and she is interested in books – the only one so inclined in her whole town. All the other women pursue traditional roles. Gaston wants to marry Belle because she is the prettiest, “and therefore the best,” without ever asking her or recognizing her intellect. Gaston narcissistically assumes that because he is handsome, she will agree to marry him. Gaston believes in repressing women. Belle’s willingness to exchange her life for her father’s mistake shows both her love for her father and the power of the patriarchy to make outrageous demands on women.

SUBSTANCES: Gaston drinks beer.

BOOK: Mme. Leprince de Beaumont, “Beauty and the Beast.”

COMMENTS: It is unfortunate that Gaston must die, after all, he has many admirers in town with whom I am sure he would be happy – death is a slightly harsh punishment for being a macho pig. On the plus side, books and knowledge are central to the story. Brilliant animation, great songs and a fascinating modern, slightly feminist turn on an old fairly tale makes for a wonderful film for the whole family.

STARRING: Voices of Paige O’Hara, Robby Benson, Jerry Orbach, Angela Lansbury, Richard White, David Ogden Stiers, Jess Corti, Rex Everhart, Bradley Michael Pierce, Jo Anne Worley, Kimmy Robertson.


Nudity 0
Sex 0
Physical Violence 4
Emotional Stress 3
Blood 0
Language/Profanity 0
Immorality 3
Parental Guidance 2
Watchability for Adults 5
Overall: 5
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Copyright Arthur Taussig 2024