Blu-ray Review: ‘Beauty and the Beast’

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Coming to the home market for the umpteenth time, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (1991) and Henry Selick’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) are both rereleased on 3D Blu-ray this week. First up, Beauty and the Beast has aged terrifically well and remains one of Disney’s best films from the 1990s. Its animation is fantastically nuanced, the voice acting spot-on, and also makes a good case for being one of Disney’s scariest films. Though one could argue that it deviates a little from the central moral of its source text, this remains a strikingly straight-faced callback to the classical Disney films of the mid-20th century.

An evergreen favourite, The Nightmare Before Christmas has probably never looked or sounded better than on Blu-ray, with or without the 3D. Created by Tim Burton and directed by Selick, it features the former’s trademark sense of design and propensity for embracing the beast, combined with the latter’s acute sense of pace and eye for truly cinematic stop-motion animation.

The darkly watchable inhabitants of ‘Halloweentown’ and the insanely cherubic children of ‘Christmastown’ are stunningly animated, the narrative direct and enchanting. The resonant emotional core is Sally, the melancholic rag-doll Frankenstein’s monster creation in love with Jack, voiced by the ever-reliable Catherine O’Hara. The film’s score remains one of Danny Elfman’s absolute best, not only because of the songs themselves but also Elfman’s brilliant work voicing a number of the singing cast. Doing them absolute justice is the astonishing quality of the sound transfer.

It feels strange to recommend both of these films, what with them having been so widely respected since their releases nearly 20 years ago, but here it is. Watch them again – both Beauty and the Beast and The Nightmare Before Christmas remain as determined to put a smile on your face as ever.

Stephen Glass

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