Beauty and the Beast is a 1991 American animated musical romantic fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The 30th film in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series and the third in the Disney Renaissance period, it is based on the French fairy tale of the same name by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, who was uncredited in the English version but credited in the French version, and ideas from the 1946 French film. Beauty and the Beast focuses on the relationship between the Beast (Robby Benson), a prince who is magically transformed into a monster as punishment for his arrogance, and Belle (Paige O'Hara), a beautiful young woman whom he imprisons in his castle. To become a prince again, Beast must win her love in return otherwise he remains a monster forever. The film also features the voices of Richard White, Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers, and Angela Lansbury.
Walt Disney first attempted unsuccessfully to adapt Beauty and the Beast into an animated feature film during the 1930s and 1950s. Following the success of The Little Mermaid (1989), Disney decided to adapt the fairy tale, which Richard Purdum originally conceived as a non-musical. Disney chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg eventually discontinued the idea and ordered that the film be a musical similar to The Little Mermaid instead. Beauty and the Beast was directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise, with a screenplay by Linda Woolverton story first credited to Roger Allers. Lyricist Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken wrote the film's songs. Ashman, who additionally served as an executive producer on the film, died of AIDS related complications eight months before the film's release, and the film was dedicated to his memory.
Beauty and the Beast premiered as an unfinished film at the New York Film Festival on September 29, 1991, followed by its theatrical release as a completed film at the El Capitan Theatre on November 22. The film was a box office success, grossing $425 million worldwide. Beauty and the Beast received wide critical acclaim; it won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and became the first animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Score and Best Original Song for its title song. In 2002, Beauty and the Beast was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
In April 1994, Beauty and the Beast became Disney's first animated film to be adapted into a Broadway musical. The success of the film spawned two direct-to-video follow-ups: Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997) and Beauty and the Beast: Belle's Magical World (1998). This was followed by a spin-off television series, Sing Me a Story with Belle. An IMAX version was released in 2002 that included "Human Again", a new five minute musical sequence. After the success of the 3-D re-release of The Lion King, the film was reissued in 3-D in 2012.
One winter's night, an enchantress disguised as a beggar offers a cold-hearted prince a rose in exchange for shelter. When he refuses, she transforms him into a beast and his servants into household objects. She bestows the Beast with a magic mirror before hexing the rose and warning him that, unless he learns to love another and earns their love in return by the time the last petal falls, he and his servants will lose their humanity forever.
Years later, a beautiful young woman named Belle dreams of adventure and brushes off advances from Gaston, a handsome, narcissistic and arrogant hunter. Lost in the forest while traveling to a fair to present his latest invention, Belle's father Maurice seeks refuge in the Beast's castle. After Maurice befriends the castle's servants, however, the Beast discovers and imprisons him. Belle ventures out in search for him and finds him locked in the castle's dungeon. The Beast agrees to let her take Maurice's place.
Befriending the castle's servants, Belle is treated to a spectacular dinner. When she wanders into the forbidden West Wing where the rose is kept, the Beast flies into a rage, causing Belle to flee the castle and into the woods. She is attacked by wolves, but the Beast rescues Belle and gets injured in the process. He begins to develop feelings for her while she nurses his wounds and he delights her by showing his extensive library.
Returning to the village, Maurice tells the townsfolk of Belle's predicament, but no one believes him. Gaston then bribes Monsieur D'Arque, the warden of the town’s insane asylum to have Maurice locked up if Belle refuses to marry Gaston.
After sharing a romantic dance with the Beast, Belle discovers her father lying in the woods while attempting to rescue her using the magic mirror. The Beast releases her to save Maurice, giving her the mirror to remember him with. Belle rescues Maurice and brings him back to the village where she nurses him back to health. Suddenly, an angry mob led by Gaston comes to Belle's house and they try to take Maurice away, believing his claims of the Beast has caused a lapse of insanity. Gaston tries to force Belle to marry him for her father's release but she realizes that he was behind it. Belle then proves Maurice's sanity by revealing the Beast in the mirror to the townsfolk. Belle angrily confronts Gaston that he is a monster and the Beast is not, which enrages Gaston whom she does not want to marry. Realizing that Belle loves the Beast, Gaston has her thrown into the basement with her father and rallies the villagers to follow him to the castle to kill the Beast. With Chip's aid, Maurice and Belle escape and rush back to the castle.
Not happy, the servants battle the invading villagers, driving them out of the castle. Gaston attacks the Beast in his tower, who is too depressed to fight back, but regains his will upon seeing Belle return. He overpowers Gaston but spares his life before reuniting with Belle. Gaston stabs the Beast, but he loses his footing from the Beast's thrashing and falls to his death. The Beast nearly dies from Gaston's stab before the last petal falls. When Belle tearfully professes her love to him, the curse is broken, repairing the castle and restoring the Beast's and servants' human forms. The Prince and Belle host a ball for the kingdom, where they dance happily.
- Robby Benson as Beast
- Paige O'Hara as Belle
- Richard White as Gaston
- Jerry Orbach as Lumière
- Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts
- David Ogden Stiers as Cogsworth/Narrator
- Bradley Michael Pierce as Chip
- Jesse Corti as LeFou
- Rex Everhart as Maurice
- Hal Smith as Philippe
- Jo Anne Worley as Wardrobe
- Kimmy Robertson as Fifi
- Frank Welker as Footstool, aka Sultan
- Mary Kay Bergman and Kath Soucie as the Bimbettes
- Tony Jay as Monsieur D'Arque
- Billy West as Ren Hoek
- John Kricfalusi as Stimpy
- Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson
- Along with the main plot, there are the two animated television segments. The first features features Marge from The Simpsons warns viewers that the following program may give their children nightmares, so she suggests the adults to "tuck your children into bed tonight instead of writing us angry letters tomorrow." At the end, another features the two characters from Ren and Stimpy, a short-tempered chihuaha, Ren says goodbye to the viewers at home since the show is over. A good-natured cat, Stimpy is not happy about this, so Ren cheers him up that he blow himself up into a balloon. Stimpy blows himself up into a balloon, only to be popped by Ren with a needle.