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Tale as Old as Time: The Art and Making of Beauty and the Beast

General Information:

Media Type: Book
Type: Other
Release Date: 2010-08-31

Geek's Thoughts: Most of us disneygeeks know that Beauty and the Beast took the long road to theaters either from one of the many shorts/documentaries on it or what we have read from other sources, but having one book that goes through the entire story is a real treat to sit down and read. Published just before the BluRay release of Beauty and the Beast in 2010 this book is a history lesson on the film and an educational piece on what it takes to create one of these animated masterpieces. Charles Solomon does a great job of walking us through the development process that seemed to have more starts and stops than you could imagine and introducing us to many of the people behind the film and how their collaboration created the Disney masterpiece. He starts with the origins of the story and how the fairy tale evolved over time. He touches on the various times Disney (including Walt) took up the piece and works his way through the process to bring the story to the screen, stage and beyond.

In addition to exploring the history of the process the book also takes you on a tour of some of the art ranging from sketches and concepts to images from the film. I really enjoyed seeing some of the development moments and photos of those involved in the film. It is hard to believe most of this development happened 20 years ago now.


The book is divided into nine chapters covering everything from the origins of the story through the development process to the characters and then into the transformation for the stage and to IMAX and now 3D. It shows the evolution of the film and its many adaptations. The only area that seemed to get a brief mention and no real discussion is how the themeparks used the film in their various shows, etc.. There is a mention of how the parks were the trial run for the Broadway show but I would have liked to have seen this area further explored (mostly because of my bias to the parks).

The one chapter that really stands out to me, guess because I am also a computer geek, is "There Must Be More Than This Provincial Life, chapter 7, Creating a world for the story". In here you are reminded that back when Beauty and the Beast was being made computers and CGI was all still rather raw. The CAPS (Computer-Assisted Production System) that Disney developed for its animation was never used for a complete film (B&B was the first). An interesting stat that jumped out to me was that CAPS had a 72GB capacity only. Hard to believe that was the cutting edge of technology at the time. It says the machine took up a good portion of the computer room, I would venture to guess it was several racks or rack equivalents to achieve this.

Another aspect that I never really thought of is what has to happen to a film to make it work for IMAX. How the large IMAX film requires much greater attention to detail in the far reaches of the frame. I always assumed/knew about the sweat spot but never took the time to think about the entire frame (now I need to go see it in IMAX)...

Overall I found this book a very quick read and I ended up going through a second time just to look at the artwork and re-read the captions.

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