Film Music: Beauty and the Beast

One of my all-time favorite movies is Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. I’ve seen the animated one from 1991 more times than I can count (I do like the live action one, but I haven’t seen it enough times to accurately determine how much I like it). Belle is relatable, the songs are catchy, the animation is wonderful. There’s humor and sadness and hope, and I love the message that it’s okay to be yourself. 🙂

Being a musician, one of the most important aspects of a good a movie is its score. If a movie has a well-written score, one that speaks to me on an intellectual and emotional level, then it’s rating on my “favorite movies” list is automatically high. And Beauty and the Beast is definitely up there. I’m not talking about the songs, although they are amazing and I know every word to each one. In this post I’m going to share what I love about the orchestral score from Beauty and the Beast.

*Disney music legend Alan Menken composed all of the music for Beauty and the Beast and Disney even got him to help create the music in the live action film too! Click here and here for some interviews with Alan Menken regarding Beauty and the Beast.

 

Let’s start with the opening. The Prologue. Watch below and take careful note of the music:

Chills. The music here is so powerful. It captures the beauty and the foreboding of Belle and the Beast (and the animation is gorgeous!) while introducing the story. Here’s a piano version of myself playing:

Okay now listen to this one; “To the Fair”. It plays in the beginning when Belle’s father goes to the fair (surprise!), and I love this because it’s so quirky and happy. It characterizes Belle’s father well and it uses many of the other musical themes from the movie in fun ways.

And then there’s “West Wing” – the part after the song “Be Our Guest” where Belle decides to go exploring in the one place she’s told not to go… This section of the score reminds me a lot of the prologue (check 1:08-1:32, sound familiar?) because it characterizes the Beast’s anger while foreshadowing the rest of the story (i.e. THEY FALL IN LOVE). It gets a little intense, but that serves to create tension in the story.

The last scene I’m going to talk about today is the transformation scene. This music is stunning because it captures the beauty of the love story beginning with the dance and ending with the happily ever after. Around 2:33 we hear the prologue theme again as it builds to the finale.

 

What’s your favorite scene from Beauty and the Beast? Are there any movie scores that speak to you?

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