I ended up giving this film only one possible star because no matter how many stars I allot, it will get all of them. After watching it as a child and as an adult with children, I do not have any changes I would like to see made to the film as it was originally released. That's coming from someone so cynical they usually have multiple suggestions for the makers of TV commercials.
I really like this movie. Watching it again as an adult, I appreciate a lot of stuff I never noticed when I was a kid. The songs move, the characters are more real than most movies (ironic since they are candlesticks and feather dusters), and there aren't any awkward "duct tape moments" at the end to patch things up.
Like at the end of the little mermaid:
"What the heck. She may have dragged us through more misery than we ever imagined possible and I'll never see her again but why don't I just put those legs back on? Besides, maybe then she won't bug us anymore."Or in Aladdin:
"I know we just had a whole movie about a genie who can't make you a real prince so you can marry my daughter so I'll just change the rules now instead. Have fun kids!"You get the point.
Of all the cool stuff to pick out, mostly I was surprised to realize that even with Belle being 1) the princess, and 2) the "star," a large part of the story is a deep contrast between Gaston and the Beast.
Gaston declares "She's the most beautiful girl in town... That makes her the best." Ironic, since she is the best girl in town but not because she's the most beautiful. Of course Gaston "knows" Belle will be happy to marry him. The Beast knows Belle is the best but doesn't think she could ever love him.
Gaston can't stand Belle's father so he has his lackeys throw him out in the cold. The beast can't stand Belle's father so he safely, albeit abruptly, sends him home in a carriage.
When Gaston realizes Belle is missing he leaves his buddy in the snow to wait for Belle to show up. When Bell runs off and goes missing the Beast tracks her through the snow and fights off wolves to save her life.
When Gaston realizes how much Belle loves her father he tries use that to force her into marrying him. When the Beast realizes how much Belle loves her father he lets her leave, believing he will never see her again.
At the climax of the movie the Beast and Gaston fight like titans, hand to hand.* When all is said and done, Gaston is dangling from his neck over the kind of chasm that can only exist in animated films (and Saturday morning cartoons). For some reason the Beast pulls him back in and lets him go. Why? Why not kill him? He already invaded your castle, tried to kill you, and force the only woman you've ever loved to marry him.
If I guess right, the Beast can't help but realize as he holds Gaston over the ledge that not that long ago he WAS Gaston. The young prince that sent the old woman away could just as easily have been born in a small provincial town with the pick of all the local women. The Beast was given a second chance, and can't throw someone over the ledge that hasn't had their's yet. He's learned too much about love for something like that.
Not that this is some kind of wacko Sundance film though. I mean, Gaston does turn around and screw up again, getting himself killed in the process.
Nor is it Shakespeare. The beast comes back to life and there is much rejoicing.
Thus ends (in my opinion) one of the best movies ever made.
*Anyone who has done any hunting will tell you being within arms reach of an injured but living deer or similarly sized animal is a disturbing idea. The idea of intentionally hitting something the size of the beast with a stick after you have "irritated" it with an arrow is ludicrous for anyone who has not been magically transformed into something. Apparently Gaston has magically been turned into an idiot