Tag Archives: Alan Menken

Aladdin “Prince Ali” (1992)

Before we jump into the wonderful mayhem that is “Prince Ali”, we first need to explore the context of when and where all of this is taking place. Agrabah, the city where Aladdin lives, is ruled by the benevolent Sultan, whose only daughter Jasmine, must marry a Prince by her next birthday. The problem is, Jasmine has firmly rejected any and all princely suitors that have hitherto come her way (the most recent, Prince Achmed, is sent packing after Jasmine’s pet tiger Rajah takes a bite out of his pants). The poor Sultan is despairing of Jasmine ever choosing a husband, but have no fear….Jafar, the Royal Vizier is here to help.

Thanks to Jafar’s involvement in the opening scene with the Cave of Wonders, we as an audience already have an idea that Jafar is up to no good, but here in front of the sultan he puts on the face of a well-intentioned counselor, whose only wish is to serve. The Sultan wants guidance on how to get Jasmine to marry someone, and Jafar says that this may easily be done, but first he needs the diamond ring off the Sultan’s hand. When the Sultan balks, Jafar hypnotizes the Sultan into handing over the ring via his cobra-headed staff. (In reality, Jafar needs the ring to find “the diamond in the rough” who can enter the Cave of Wonders without getting killed).

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Jafar is actually a villain I hadn’t paid much attention to, even as a kid, that is until I learned a rather interesting fact about him. After I bought Sleeping Beauty on Blu-ray, there was an interview with the now-late animator of Maleficent, and several other Disney animators. One in particular, the lead animator for Jafar, revealed that Jafar’s design is directly based on Maleficent. Looking at the picture above, I can totally see the resemblance. But I digress, on to “Prince Ali” !!

After Jafar’s plan to use Aladdin to get the lamp backfires, Jafar has to think of a new way he can come to power. Thankfully, his wisecracking parrot Iago has the perfect solution: why doesn’t Jafar marry Princess Jasmine? There’s nothing in the Law that says it can’t be done and it would be the easiest route to power as once the wedding is done, Jasmine and the Sultan would suffer an unfortunate “accident” resulting in Jafar as the sole ruler of Agrabah. It’s diabolical, and it just might work! All Jafar needs to do is hypnotize the Sultan into authorizing the marriage and it’s a done deal. But just as the Sultan nearly agrees to it, a faraway trumpet blast breaks the hypnosis and the Sultan runs to see what is coming.

Make way for Prince Ali
Say hey! It’s Prince Ali
Hey! Clear the way in the old Bazaar
Hey you!
Let us through!
It’s a bright new star!
Oh Come!
Be the first on your block to meet his eye!
Make way!
Here he comes!
Ring bells! Bang the drums!
Are you gonna love this guy!
Prince Ali! Fabulous he!
Ali Ababwa
Genuflect, show some respect
Down on one knee!
Now, try your best to stay calm
Brush up your sunday salaam
The come and meet his spectacular coterie

I absolutely LOVE this song! The fanfares, the pageantry, it’s just amazing to watch. And right away you can tell that the leader of the parade is the Genie with flesh-colored skin. The entire song is performed by Robin Williams, the purpose being to present “Prince Ali Ababwa” (aka Aladdin) as this amazing prince whom the princess couldn’t possibly think of refusing because he’s so awesome:

Prince Ali!
Mighty is he!
Ali Ababwa
Strong as ten regular men, definitely!
He faced the galloping hordes
A hundred bad guys with swords
Who sent those goons to their lords?
Why, Prince Ali
He’s got seventy-five golden camels
Purple peacocks
He’s got fifty-three
When it comes to exotic-type mammals
Has he got a zoo?
I’m telling you, it’s a world-class menagerie
Prince Ali! Handsome is he, Ali Ababwa
That physique! How can I speak
Weak at the knees
Well, get on out in that square
Adjust your veil and prepare
To gawk and grovel and stare at Prince Ali!

 

He’s got ninety-five white Persian monkeys
(He’s got the monkeys, let’s see the monkeys)
And to view them he charges no fee
(He’s generous, so generous)
He’s got slaves, he’s got servants and flunkies
(Proud to work for him)
They bow to his whim love serving him
They’re just lousy with loyalty to Ali! Prince Ali!
Prince Ali!
Amorous he! Ali Ababwa
Heard your princess was a sight lovely to see
And that, good people, is why he got dolled up and dropped by
With sixty elephants, llamas galore
With his bears and lions
A brass band and more
With his forty fakirs, his cooks, his bakers
His birds that warble on key
Make way for prince Ali!

According to the Genie, Prince Ali has done it all: he’s as strong as ten men, he defeated a horde of bandits, he’s generous with his money and he’s the peak of physical perfection. Of course, aside from the handsomeness, everything else is a complete lie, Ali/Aladdin hasn’t done any of these things, so while it’s understandable what the Genie is trying to do (making Ali/Aladdin look good), he’s going seriously overboard. I mean, suppose a horde of bandits had swept down on Agrabah and everyone looked to this Prince Ali to solve the problem? I’m probably nitpicking, but it is something to think about.

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At any rate, the procession is extremely impressive. In fact, it’s modeled after the famous Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City (with the giant floats and even a giant balloon gorilla at one point). Everyone is impressed: the people, the city guards who used to chase Aladdin, even the bawdy girls that Aladdin used to try and impress (I honestly don’t know what else to call them). Everyone is impressed…except Princess Jasmine (who leaves in a huff before the song is even over).

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Jafar is not impressed either. While he doesn’t realize (yet) that Prince Ali is the street rat Aladdin that he left for dead in the desert, he IS upset that another Prince has arrived to upset his plans of marrying Jasmine himself. No matter how great this Prince Ali is, as far as Jafar is concerned, he has got to go!

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Poor Iago got squashed…

The song ends as the giant procession forces itself into the throne room where Prince Ali presents himself to the Sultan by flying down on his magic carpet. That’s quite an entrance for any Disney Prince to make, but will Jasmine be interested? Possibly…IF Ali/Aladdin can be himself and IF he can tell her the truth and IF Jafar doesn’t figure out who he really is first, wow that’s a lot of “Ifs”.

What do you think about “Prince Ali” ? Did the Genie take things a little too far? For next time, we’ll look at “Friend Like Me”.

*all images are the property of Walt Disney Studios

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For more Aladdin, see:

Aladdin “Arabian Nights” (1992)

Aladdin “One Jump Ahead” and reprise (1992)

Aladdin “Friend Like Me” (1992)

Aladdin “A Whole New World” (1992)

Aladdin “Prince Ali (reprise)” (1992)

Aladdin “The End” (1992)

for more great Disney songs and films, check out the main page here: Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

Aladdin “Arabian Nights” (1992)

After the outstanding success of Beauty and the Beast (1991), the next installment in the Disney Renaissance came out the following year. Aladdin (1992), adapts the fairy tale of the same name and tells the story of how a “street rat” named Aladdin falls in love with the beautiful Princess Jasmine, meets a powerful genie, and becomes a prince so he can attempt to marry her. Did I mention there’s also a power-hungry vizier/sorcerer named Jafar who’d like to be Sultan himself and will do anything to achieve this goal?

Aladdin holds a special place in my life. While Beauty and the Beast is my overall favorite, Aladdin is quite possibly the first film I ever saw in the movie theater. It is certainly the oldest film I remember seeing (I will never forget seeing the title card come up on that big screen). Though there is a (small) chance I was taken to see Beauty and the Beast, I have no memory of seeing the film in the theater, so I can’t say for sure.

On the musical side, Aladdin’s score was once again composed by Alan Menken, with songs created by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. This is the final film to feature songs completed by Ashman before his untimely death from HIV: the three songs that feature his work are “Arabian Nights”, “Prince Ali” (Tim Rice completed the reprise of this song) and “Friend Like Me.”

Since “Arabian Nights” opens the film, that is where we will begin. The scene begins with the Peddler riding across the desert on his camel as he sings about the desert. Menken and Ashman originally conceived of this song as being a lot longer, with frequent reprises that would have taken place throughout the film to comment on developments in the story. This idea was nixed, though the opening prologue remained, with one semi-significant change. In the opening verse, this is what we hear:

O I come from a land/from a faraway place/where the caravan camels roam

Where it’s flat and immense/and the heat is intense, it’s barbaric, but hey it’s home!

The “flat and immense” line is actually a substitution. The original verse read “Where they cut off your ear if they don’t like your face…” Why they would put that line in a Disney film, I don’t know, but I think we can all agree that it was a good thing they changed it (interestingly enough, the original verse is intact on the CD release of the soundtrack).

When the wind’s from the east
And the sun’s from the west
And the sand in the glass is right
Come on down
Stop on by
Hop a carpet and fly
To another Arabian night

Arabian Nights like Arabian days
More often than not
Are hotter than hot
In a lot of good ways

Arabian Nights ‘neath Arabian moons
A fool off his guard
Could fall and fall hard
Out there on the dunes

The complete song is not very long (just over 1:30) but it includes a great shot of the city of Agrabah, as well as the fantastically huge palace (which I believe was inspired by the real-life Taj Mahal). I loved this opening shot, because once the palace appears, the entire song changes from a relatively slow ballad to a fast-paced Arabian melody.

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Now as for the Peddler himself: Disney itself confirmed months ago what we’ve all suspected for years: Robin Williams was indeed voicing the character while he gives his sales pitch at the end of the prologue, which likely means that the Peddler is the Genie in disguise. However, that is NOT Robin Williams singing “Arabian Nights.” It was going to be, but Williams had so much trouble singing the high parts of the song (after Agrabah is revealed) that Disney brought in Bruce Adler to record the entire song in an imitation of Williams’ voice.

This song is very beautiful, but as I said before, so very short, that I almost wish the longer version envisioned by Menken and Ashman had survived to the final cut. As it stands though, “Arabian Nights” makes a perfect introduction to the setting of the film (it’s certainly a stunning reveal, going from pure desert to a huge palace in a matter of seconds).

That’s all I have for “Arabian Nights”, next time I will likely skip ahead to either “Prince Ali” or “Friend Like Me.” I hope you enjoyed this first look at Aladdin!

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*all images are the property of Walt Disney Studios

For more Aladdin, see also:

Aladdin “One Jump Ahead” and reprise (1992)

Aladdin “Friend Like Me” (1992)

Aladdin “Prince Ali” (1992)

Aladdin “A Whole New World” (1992)

Aladdin “Prince Ali (reprise)” (1992)

Aladdin “The End”

For more great Disney songs and films, check out the main page here: Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

Beauty and the Beast “Transformation” (1991)

At last we come to the end of Beauty and the Beast, but I had a lot of fun writing this series!

There is no denying that Disney is a master at pulling at our heart-strings, and the “transformation scene” is no exception. How can he audience not get upset? Sure, Gaston got what he had coming to him and then some, but the Beast has been badly injured and the magic rose is down to the very last petal!!

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While the enchanted objects watch in terror/horror, Belle and the Beast share their moment together. The Beast knows this is the end, but Belle is in denial, swearing that everything is going to be okay. It’s not though, and the Beast, relieved that he could see Belle one last time, (seemingly) dies!! And while Belle breaks down in tears (quitely confessing that she loves the Beast), the camera looks back to show the very last petal falling. Of course Lumiere, Cogsworth and Mrs. Potts didn’t hear Belle’s admission of love, so they believe that it’s all over, they’re trapped this way forever. But then…something wonderful happens!

I always looked forward to this scene as a kid, because once the “magic rain” starts falling, you know something cool is going on. Animator Glen Keane was originally told that he would have only two weeks to complete this sequence, but he knew that wouldn’t be nearly enough time to do it properly.

So he went to producer Don Hahn and asked for more time and he as told “take as long as you need” and it really shows! On a quick side note, the smoke you see rising up around the Beast is real (that is, live action), it was left over from a scene in The Black Cauldron (1985) so the animators reused it here (though how I’m not exactly sure).

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What’s really mind-bending about Beast’s transformation is that it’s all hand-drawn! You watch a hand, a leg, and finally the Beast’s face change into the Prince and the motion of change is so smooth (and at the same time so complex), it’s incredible work! Of course Belle (and the other enchanted objects) are spell-bound during this sequence (Belle has a perfect “What’s Happening?” look on her face).

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Mid-transformation

The transformation finishes in one glorious flash and now, instead of the Beast, we have this really handsome Prince laying on the balcony, but he’s not dead! He staggers to his feet, turns and faces a shocked Belle. And yes, that is Robby Benson’s real voice when the Prince speaks (hard to believe it’s the same person isn’t it?) Belle doesn’t seem too sure that this handsome guy is the same as the Beast she’s fallen in love with, but then she sees his eyes, those beautiful blue eyes that are identical to those the Beast had.

Now properly reunited, Belle and the Prince share that long-awaited kiss, which seems to fully break the enchantment over the whole castle. There’s fireworks everywhere and suddenly it’s day when it was previously night, and the castle is completely transformed (notably, the monster statues become angels), and then everyone begins changing back into their human forms and everything is happy and wonderful again.

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The story ends with Belle and the Prince happily dancing in the ballroom once more. Maurice is there also and everyone is going to live happily ever after. If this scene looks strikingly familiar to the ending of Sleeping Beauty (1959), that’s because it essentially is the same scene, and Aurora and Philip were painted over with Belle and the Prince and any other characters were altered accordingly.

This was done because the production was running short of time and money and this was a cost-effective way to complete the production without fully animating a whole new scene. Truthfully, I don’t mind, it’s a wonderful ending to a wonderful story. And the last refrain of “Tale as Old as Time” never fails to make me tear up. By the way, that last stained glass window is real!!! It exists somewhere in Disneyland (or so I’ve read) so, if anyone has a picture of the real window, I would love to see it!!

And that’s it for Beauty and the Beast! I hope you are all inspired to go out and re-watch this dazzling piece of animation (and feel free to sing along). Tomorrow (if no tiebreaker is required) I will announce the next Disney film to be covered.

P.S.

While doing research for this last post, I came across a last piece of trivia that I wanted to share: a proposed death for Gaston involved him being eaten alive by wolves after falling from the balcony but surviving with a broken leg (this fate was eventually used for Scar in The Lion King, substituting hyenas for wolves). I’m not sure what’s worse, falling to your death with enough time to think about it, or falling, breaking your leg and THEN being eaten by wolves. It’s interesting to think about.

*all images are the property of Walt Disney Studios

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

For more Beauty and the Beast, see:

Beauty and the Beast “Belle” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Belle (reprise)” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Gaston” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Be Our Guest” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Something There” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Human Again” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Beauty and the Beast/Tale as Old as Time” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “The Mob Song” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “The West Wing” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Battle on the Tower” (1991)

For more great Disney songs and films, check out the main page here: Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Beauty and the Beast “Battle on the Tower” (1991)

From the moment Gaston saw the Beast in the magic mirror, it became clear that a conflict between the two was inevitable. And Gaston couldn’t ask for a more complacent target: ever since he let Belle go rescue her father, the Beast has been sunk in a deep depression, he doesn’t think Belle is ever coming back and so he doesn’t care if he lives or dies. Thus, when Gaston appears in the West Wing with an arrow cocked at him, the Beast doesn’t even twitch (that alone should’ve told Gaston that this was no ordinary “Beast” but we already know that he’s not one to think anything through), that is until he gets an arrow in the back.

Beauty and the Beast “Battle on the Tower” (1991)

Gaston is being deliberately cruel: clearly an an expert hunter, he’s deliberately taunting the Beast (as opposed to a swift kill) because (in his mind) “how dare this ugly thing claim Belle as his own in any way?” He’s so blinded by hate that he can’t see that the Beast is clearly heartbroken. But Gaston’s taken way too long; Belle comes riding up and when Beast sees that Belle has come back, the entire game changes (and not in Gaston’s favor).

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While Belle races to the West Wing, Gaston and Beast play cat and mouse on the roof tops of the castle. I mentioned in the post for “Tale as Old as Time” that this scene very nearly became the CGI scene (in which case the roof of the castle would’ve been computer generated), but the test images weren’t nearly realistic enough, so the idea was scrapped and animated traditionally.

Musically, this scene is a blending of several themes, most noticeably there are several lines from “Something there” but in an entirely different key (you can hear “for he’s no prince Charming” when Belle is seen running up the stairs, and “something there I didn’t see” when Gaston smashes the head of a statue by mistake).

Beauty and the Beast “Battle on the Tower” (Soundtrack version) (1991)

Gaston is delusional at this point, going so far as to say “Were you in love with her Beast? Did you honestly think she would want you? When she had someone like me??” It’s a total lie and the Beast knows it (if Belle had been attached to anyone in the village in that way, she would’ve surely said something to him), and he sneaks up for the attack. But Gaston believes he has him cornered until he goes one step to far and shouts “Belle is mine!!” This is too much for the Beast who, in two swift movements, knocks Gaston’s club away and leaves him dangling off the rooftop with one hand around his neck. What happens next is very, very important. Gaston (true to his character) is now a sniveling coward, pleading for his life. He’ll do anything, ANYTHING, just don’t kill/hurt him. I always knew that when the Beast did NOT kill Gaston, that he had learned mercy, embracing his inner humanity, but it only struck me last week that there was something more as well.

Remember in the prologue when, just before his initial transformation, the Beast tried to apologize to the Enchantress? It occurred to me, just then, that the Prince must have begged for mercy in the exact same way that Gaston begged for his life. And the Beast paused (with a magical theme echoing in his ears no less), not just because he was choosing mercy, but because he can see the person he was (a spoiled young man) in Gaston. And so, he’s granting Gaston the mercy that the Enchantress did not show him (the Prince) in the hopes that he will learn something from it, merely telling him to “Get out!”

 

Just at that moment, Belle appears on the balcony, and the Beast only has eyes for her. Gaston watched him climb towards Belle, but neither of them care; the Beast is awestruck that Belle really did come back and there’s a beautiful moment as the two grab hands, and you can tell they’re both happy to be together again. But just as the moment is building to a romantic climax…Gaston intrudes for the last time. Not content to run away with his life, Gaston has fully embraced the “if I can’t have her, no one can” mindset, snuck up from behind and STABBED the Beast in the back! Anyone who’s seen the movie knows what comes next, but would you believe me if I said the ending used to be a whole lot darker?

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Don’t get me wrong, Gaston was always going to die, but it was the how of his death that was changed. In the original script, after stabbing the Beast, Gaston was going to shout something cruel to Belle and then throw himself laughing off the balcony down to his own death. And I can hear people saying Disney wanted to do this?? While it is incredibly shocking and dark, bear in mind that this is the same studio that originally planned for Bambi to come back and find his death mother in a pool of blood (Disney himself vetoed that idea once he got wind of it). Thankfully for all concerned, the animators and writers felt that this really was too dark and Gaston’s death was re-animated to the version we know today: the Beast thrusts Gaston aside and he falls screaming to his death. But you can actually see a few frames of the original ending (because the animators were running out of time and money): look at Gaston’s face and body posture just before he gets knocked off and begins to flail. See that insane grin? You can tell he’s positioned to jump, but in the very next shot, he’s in a slightly different spot.

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No one dies like Gaston (I couldn’t resist)

And there we have the end of Gaston, and also the end of the Beast as Belle knows him. Next time, the final entry for Beauty and the Beast: “The Transformation”

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

*all images are the property of Walt Disney Studios

For more Beauty and the Beast, see:

Beauty and the Beast “Belle” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Belle (reprise)” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Gaston” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Be Our Guest” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Something There” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Human Again” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Beauty and the Beast/Tale as Old as Time” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “The Mob Song” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “The West Wing” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Transformation” (1991)

For more great Disney songs and films, check out the main page here: Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Beauty and the Beast “The West Wing” (1991)

From the moment Beast informed Belle that she could go anywhere in the castle except the West Wing (with no other explanation than “It’s forbidden!”), it was a foregone conclusion that Belle would go to the West Wing and that she would get caught. This is a long-standing trope in film that when something is explicitly forbidden, the character will go anyway and get caught by somebody at some point (case in point: Ariel was forbidden to have anything to do with humans, but she kept a grotto full of human things, and we all know how that turned out; Simba was forbidden to go to the elephant graveyard, Quasimodo couldn’t leave the bell tower, etc.)

I absolutely love the music for this scene. Purely orchestral, it highlights the danger of what Belle is doing (because we have no way of knowing where the Beast is right now), and also the growing curiosity to see what IS in the West Wing. As Belle walks down the hallway, she passes by a lot of broken statues that all resemble different beasts. Actually, that’s by design: practically every “beast” statue you see in the castle comes from a concept drawing when the animators were designing the look of the beast. My personal favorite is a statue of a giant snake (when Belle is looking in horror at all of the ugly statues in the hallway, just before she bursts into tears, look to the right and you’ll see it in an alcove).

 

Finally, Belle comes to a large door and for a moment there’s a breath of tension, as if the Beast might appear at any second, but Belle’s curiosity wins and she pulls the door open to reveal the forbidden West Wing. It’s in a shambles, but Belle presses forward anyway (as a child, my heart would always stop when she knocked the table over). And it’s here that she discovers two things: a heavily ripped portrait of a handsome man, with very familiar blue eyes (in reality a portrait of what the Beast really looks like), but just as Belle seems to make the connection, she notices something else, it’s the magic rose!!

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The shot of Belle walking up to the bell jar is just beautiful, and for a moment, it almost looks like the rose is rotating to “look” at her (and maybe it is, it IS a magic rose after all). Of course, Belle then does the worst possible thing she could do, which is to remove the jar and try to touch the rose itself, and that’s when everything goes wrong in a hurry.

When I was young, I didn’t quite understand the magnitude of what Belle almost did. I knew that Beast was angry because she’s gone where she wasn’t supposed to, but something was going over my head. It was only when I was older that I realized that the reason Beast kept the rose in a jar was to protect it from any outside force inadvertently knocking off the petals more quickly and thus shorten the time he has left to break the spell. If Belle had touched the rose, she might have done just that, and that is what really infuriates Beast, who as expected, appears just as Belle is reaching out, and he is beyond angry!

Now, while Belle is in trouble and Beast does have a right to some anger (since she did disobey him), it’s also true that Beast never told Belle why she couldn’t go into the West Wing, so Beast’s roar of “Do you realize what you could have done??” can never be answered because no, Belle doesn’t realize what could have happened because Beast didn’t tell her! All of this is too much for Belle to take and she runs from the castle (literally), swearing “Promise or no promise, I can’t stay here another minute!”

I’m sure there will be a counterpart to this scene in the live-action version of the film (and I can’t wait to see how it plays out!)

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

*all images are the property of Walt Disney Studios

For more Beauty and the Beast, see:

Beauty and the Beast “Belle” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Belle (reprise)” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Gaston” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Be Our Guest” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Something There” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Human Again” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Beauty and the Beast/Tale as Old as Time” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “The Mob Song” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Battle on the Tower” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Transformation” (1991)

For more great Disney songs and films, check out the main page here: Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Beauty and the Beast “Human Again” (1991)

“Human Again” is a musical number created by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman that originally occupied the position that “Something There” now does. Written in the tempo of a fast waltz, the song features a number of enchanted objects (led by Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, and the Wardrobe with her own verse) singing about how they could be human again now that Belle and Beast are growing closer together.

This song was ultimately cut from the original version of the film because of pacing issues and length (the entire sequence was approximately 11 minutes long!!). It also presented an issue because the number implies that a very long passage of time is occurring, which doesn’t make sense since it’s already been established that Maurice is out in the woods looking for Belle (and it wouldn’t make sense for him to be out there alone for months). So the decision was made to cut “Human Again” and replace it with the shorter and to-the-point “Something There.”

The number was first restored for the Beauty and the Beast Broadway production in 1994 and ultimately was restored to the film for the 2002 Special Edition DVD release (it is placed between “Something There” and the ballroom scene).

For the restoration, all the original cast members from the film were reunited to record the song and careful work was done on the animation to ensure it merged in seamlessly with the rest of the film. I’m glad they did this when they did, as Jerry Orbach (the voice of Lumiere) sadly passed away two years later.

I like “Human Again,” it’s a fun musical number and features some great shots of different areas of the castle being cleaned up. In fact, re-inserting this sequence does help to explain why the West Wing is suddenly much tidier when Beast takes Belle to see the magic mirror after their dance (because various servants are shown cleaning the room up). There’s also a hysterical moment when the footstool-dog comes across a pillow-cat and gives chase, tracking dirt into the newly cleaned ballroom!

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Run pillow-kitty, run!!!

Believe it or not, we’ve actually made our way through all the songs of Beauty and the Beast, but I’m not done with this film just yet. There’s a few musical moments that I still want to explore: “The West Wing”, “Battle on the Tower”, and especially “The Transformation.”

*all images are the property of Walt Disney Studios

Become a patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

For more Beauty and the Beast, see:

Beauty and the Beast “Belle” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Belle (reprise)” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Gaston” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Be Our Guest” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Something There” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Beauty and the Beast/Tale as Old as Time” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “The Mob Song” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “The West Wing” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Battle on the Tower” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Transformation” (1991)

For more great Disney songs check out the main page here: Disney A-Z

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Beauty and the Beast “Something There” (1991)

“Something There” is a fun, if brief, interlude for our main characters before the romance of the ballroom scene and the drama that follows afterward. Before the song proper commences, there’s a funny scene where Belle and Beast are meeting for breakfast and Belle discovers that Beast is…slightly out of practice using silverware, let’s just put it that way. However, Belle finds a compromise and we next shift to the pair taking a walk through the snow covered garden while Belle feeds the birds.

 

Neither Belle nor Beast sing aloud, this song is really an expression of their thoughts regarding each other. Belle is finding that Beast is really sweet and is just on the cusp of recognizing that she feels love for him as well, even though he’s “no Prince Charming.”

There’s something sweet
And almost kind
But he was mean and he was coarse and unrefined
And now he’s dear, and so unsure
I wonder why I didn’t see it there before

She glanced this way
I thought I saw
And when we touched she didn’t shudder at my paw
No it can’t be, I’ll just ignore
But then she’s never looked at me that way before

New and a bit alarming
Who’d have ever thought that this could be
True that he’s no Prince Charming?
But there’s something in him that I simply didn’t see

Beast, at the same time, is delighted that Belle isn’t scared of him anymore, though he still doubts that romance could develop between them. At the same time, he does admit that Belle is looking at him somewhat differently, so maybe there is hope after all.

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Then Lumiere, Cogsworth and Mrs. Potts get into the act and they sing a verse of their own as they observe the pair in a rather one-sided snowball fight (Belle wins), with their own hope growing that soon the enchantment will be broken.

Well, who’d have thought?
Well, bless my soul
Well, who’d have known?
Well, who indeed?
And who’d have guessed they’d come together on their own?
It’s so peculiar. We’ll wait and see, a few days more
There may be something there that wasn’t there before

Poor little Chip though can’t figure out why everyone is so excited and Mrs. Potts shushes him with “I’ll tell you when you’re older.”

It really is an adorable moment, you can tell that something is building between the pair, and it might just be love, but neither will say as much yet.

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I really like the moment where Belle sings “New, and a bit alarming!” Just the way she emphasizes that last word shows how unsure she still is about this (which is understandable, Beast doesn’t fit the traditional mold of a sweetheart). And I absolutely LOVE the moment when Belle looks back and discovers that Beast is covered in birds!!!

For next time, I’ll look at a song that initially didn’t make the final cut, but thanks to the special edition, we have it now! Get ready for “Human Again” !

*all images are the property of Walt Disney Studios

Become a patron of the blog at: patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

For more Beauty and the Beast, see:

Beauty and the Beast “Belle” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Belle (reprise)” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Gaston” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Be Our Guest” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Human Again” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Beauty and the Beast/Tale as Old as Time” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “The Mob Song” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “The West Wing” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Battle on the Tower” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Transformation” (1991)

For more great Disney songs and films, check out the main page here: Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Beauty and the Beast “Beauty and the Beast/Tale as Old as Time” (1991)

I admit I’ve been putting this particular song off because it’s really my favorite (and I was afraid of not being able to do it justice). But having re-watched the movie for inspiration, I feel confident enough to proceed now.

“Beauty and the Beast” (also known as the Dancing scene) is the culmination of the Beast’s efforts to forge a relationship with Belle. The magical rose is already well on the way to wilting, so it is imperative that Beast confess his love at just the right moment.

The beginning of this scene is just beautiful as Belle comes down the stairs in her golden dress (fact: I loved this dress so much as a kid that I begged my mother to make one for me so I could be Belle too). The Beast, meantime, has made a complete transformation from the mostly-wild creature we first met, to a perfect gentleman.

As the pair walk to dinner, the entire moment is graced with a song by Mrs. Potts (Angela Lansbury), and here comes one of the craziest stories I ever heard about a Disney song (it might just beat the story I told about “Gaston” too). See, the writers and director knew that this moment was pivotal to the story, if they got any part wrong it just wouldn’t work. And therein lay the problem for a long time, they just couldn’t figure out WHO should sing this song. For a while it was going to be Lumiere, but since he’d already performed “Be Our Guest”, it didn’t feel quite right for him to be narrating this moment. Cogsworth was also considered, as well as a Lumiere-Cogsworth duet, but that REALLY didn’t feel right.

Eventually, they felt that Angela Lansbury (as Mrs. Potts) would be just right, however, the actress did NOT want to do it; she didn’t feel right with it, didn’t think she could do the song justice, etc. In short, she politely refused. But the director knew that there was no one else to turn to, so…he used a trick. The director and Alan Menken approached Angela Lansbury and said something to the effect of “We know you don’t want to perform the song, and that’s fine. But could you please do a run-through anyway, just so we have something to help pace the scene?” The actress agreed to that and did a single run-through of the song…and that is what you hear in the final movie. Oh, I’m so glad they convinced her to do it too, it just couldn’t have worked without her.

Tale as old as time
True as it can be
Barely even friends
Then somebody bends
Unexpectedly

Just a little change
Small to say the least
Both a little scared
Neither one prepared
Beauty and the Beast

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This scene is also notable for the use of CGI in the main ballroom (the room and especially the chandelier being computer generated). There had initially been two ideas for a CGI scene, one being the ballroom scene, and the other being the climactic battle on the tower. Well, it turned out that the technology of 1991 was not quite ready to render the tower battle realistically, so the ballroom became their sole chance to show off what computer animation could do. There was even a plan B if the animation ultimately didn’t work: the animators planned to use an “Ice-capades” theme (i.e. Belle and Beast would’ve been dancing in a spotlight with darkness all around) if for some reason the computer animation failed.

Ever just the same
Ever a surprise
Ever as before
Ever just as sure
As the sun will rise

Tale as old as time
Tune as old as song
Bittersweet and strange
Finding you can change
Learning you were wrong

Certain as the sun
Rising in the east
Tale as old as time
Song as old as rhyme
Beauty and the Beast

Tale as old as time
Song as old as rhyme
Beauty and the Beast

I think this could be the perfect Disney scene, there isn’t a flaw anywhere, and Angela Lansbury’s rich voice perfectly complements what is going on. I especially love, during the “bittersweet and strange” verse, when the camera is panning down from the ceiling and showing Belle and Beast twirling, fully engrossed in the moment. Should I ever get married some day, I fully plan on this song being “the first dance song” during the reception (because it’s perfect).

I’m not sure what the live-action remake will do as an equivalent for this scene, but, however good it looks, it’ll be hard pressed to top this, that’s for sure.

Next time there’s “Something There” that wasn’t there before (oh what could it possibly be!)

*all images are the property of Walt Disney Studios

Become a patron of the blog at: patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

For more Beauty and the Beast, see:

Beauty and the Beast “Belle” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Belle (reprise)” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Gaston” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Be Our Guest” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Something There” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Human Again” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “The Mob Song” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “The West Wing” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Battle on the Tower” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Transformation” (1991)

For more great Disney songs, check out the main page here: Disney A-Z

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Beauty and the Beast “Be Our Guest” (1991)

In the grand scheme of Beauty and the Beast, “Be Our Guest” serves as Belle’s proper introduction to the various enchanted inhabitants of the castle under the elaborate guise of providing her with a forbidden dinner (since she refused to dine with the Beast, he had decided that she wouldn’t eat at all, unless it was with him). It’s a masterful production number and one of the visual highlights of the film. But it wasn’t always going to be Belle as the recipient.

Let me explain: it’s no secret that movie scripts often go through many revisions, with scenes (or songs) being moved around to different points in the movie before a final order is decided on. With Beauty and the Beast, the storyline was originally going to be somewhat different. According to an earlier draft, Maurice was going to be serenaded with “Be Our Guest” until the commotion attracted the Beast, who would break the party up by dragging the poor guy into the dungeon. The sequence was partially animated (with Maurice) until the writers realized that, story-wise, placing the song this early in would drag down the story and that it should be Belle receiving this introduction, not her father. So the song was moved to it’s current position and Maurice’s scene was changed to the “spot of tea” moment we know today.

When I was young, I always thought that the Beast would charge into the room at any moment and be furiously angry that the servants (and Belle) defied him. It kept me from properly enjoying this moment for a while.

The song is led by Lumiere (Jerry Orbach) who performs in the style of famed French singer Maurice Chevalier (1888-1972). Poor Cogsworth (David Ogden Stiers) spends most of the song trying to hush everything up, but even he’s swept up into it by the end. There’s a lot of food paraded past (and presumably Belle eats her fill, even though she’s not seen to eat a lot), a cabaret performed by the cutlery, dancing tea cups, singing kitchen pots, etc. and so on.

Ma cherie Mademoiselle,
It is with deepest pride and greatest pleasure
That we welcome you tonight.
And now, we invite you to relax,
Let us pull up a chair
As the dining room proudly presents –
Your dinner!

Be… our… guest!

Be our guest!
Put our service to the test
Tie your napkin ’round your neck, cherie
And we’ll provide the rest

Soup du jour
Hot hors d’oeuvres
Why, we only live to serve
Try the grey stuff
It’s delicious!
Don’t believe me?
Ask the dishes

They can sing!
They can dance!
After all, Miss, this is France!
And the dinner here is never second best!

Go on, unfold your menu
Take a glance and then you’ll
Be our guest
Oui, our guest
Be our guest!

There is a rather interesting interlude in the song, and for me it’s always created a bit of a problem. The music turns rather somber and Lumiere expresses how lonely and bored they’ve been without anyone to serve:

Life is so unnerving
For a servant who’s not serving
He’s not whole without a soul to wait upon
Ah, those good old days when we were useful
Suddenly those good old days are gone

Ten years we’ve been rusting
Needing so much more than dusting
Needing exercise, a chance to use our skills!

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It’s interesting that Lumiere notes this state of affairs has existed for ten years. Remember in the prologue, it was stated that the rose would bloom until the Prince turned 21. In that case, wouldn’t that have made the Prince 11 when he was enchanted? Cause in those stained-glass pictures, he doesn’t look 11 years old, and that’s why it’s a problem, it’s something of a plot hole that you can’t really resolve.

Beauty and the Beast segment at 1992 Oscars

Aside from “Belle” and “Tale as Old as Time,” “Be Our Guest” is one of the most recognizable Disney songs out there. Who wouldn’t love being sung to by a bunch of enchanted objects? That’s about it for “Be Our Guest” I hope you enjoyed it.

*all images are the property of Walt Disney Studios

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

For more Beauty and the Beast, see:

Beauty and the Beast “Belle” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Belle (reprise)” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Gaston” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Something There” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Human Again” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Beauty and the Beast/Tale as Old as Time” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “The Mob Song” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “The West Wing” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Battle on the Tower” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Transformation” (1991)

For more great Disney songs and films, check out the main page here: Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂

Beauty and the Beast “Belle (reprise)” (1991)

In case the audience had any doubts about Belle’s feelings following Gaston’s ill-fated marriage proposal, the reprise to “Belle” (which I’ve also heard called “Madame Gaston”) sets the record completely straight.

Once Gaston leaves (a furious, mud-soaked mess), Belle flies into a tirade as she sets about her chores feeding the farm animals, mocking the “cozy life” Gaston had propositioned her with only moments ago:

Can you imagine, he asked me to MARRY him/ME, the wife of that boorish, BRAINLESS…

Madame Gaston! Can’t you just see it? Madame, Gaston, his “little wife”!

No sir, not me, I guarantee it, I want much more than this provincial life!!!

I want adventure in the great wide somewhere, I want it more than I can tell…

And for once it might be grand, to have someone, understand…

I want so much more than they’ve got planned…

I can completely empathize with how Belle feels at this moment (and I know many others can too). It is downright maddening to have your dreams and aspirations be ignored (or worse, derided) by everybody you know, and the pressure to “be normal” can be overwhelming. But Belle isn’t going to give in, she’s going to have her adventure, whether the townspeople like it or not (you go Belle!)

This moment is really as close as Belle comes to making a wish about meeting her Prince Charming and getting out of the small village, and it seems this wish is granted too, because no sooner does the song end than a terrified Philippe (the family horse) comes running up to her without her father, which leads Belle to ride Philippe to look for him, which leads her to…the castle!!!

Next time: “Be Our Guest” (and I’ll tell you a secret, Belle wasn’t always the “guest” in question, but that’s for later. Until then!!!)

*all images are the property of Walt Disney Studios

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

For more Beauty and the Beast, see:

Beauty and the Beast “Belle” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Be Our Guest” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “The West Wing” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Something There” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Human Again” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Beauty and the Beast/Tale as Old as Time” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “The Mob Song” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Battle on the Tower” (1991)

Beauty and the Beast “Transformation” (1991)

For more great Disney songs, check out the main page here: Disney Films & Soundtracks A-Z

Don’t forget to like Film Music Central on Facebook 🙂