10 April 1999
When I saw the first advertising for Beauty and the Beast -- a cardboard stand-up in a movie theater -- I nearly burst into tears. Just the ADVERTISEMENT was hauntingly beautiful, tapping into some deep human reality. Hasn't everyone, at some time, felt like a hideous beast hungry for someone to love us as we are and in doing so, transform us into something beautiful?

The film itself more than delivered. Belle was the first Disney heroine who wasn't either boy-crazy or a doormat/victim. She has brains, heart, and above all, character. The Beast's transformation from monster to hero is believable and poignant. In a world where possessiveness has become the norm (witness the selfish custody battles of birth parents tearing children from the only homes they've ever known), the Beast's heart-wrenching insistence that he had to let Belle leave because he loves her is a breath of fresh air.

The music is perfection, the animation astonishing. Together they raise filmmaking of any kind to new challenges. The ballroom scene is heartbreakingly beautiful.

If you've been in a coma for ten years or have some other excuse for never having seen this gem of a movie, correct that omission as soon as possible. And have a hankie nearby.
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