Beauty and the Beast: Diamond Edition

Stunning hi-def platter ensures this Disney classic is anything but beastly on Blu-ray

Beauty and the Beast ranks up there amongst Disney’s animated crown jewels. A critical and commercial smash, this charming film even held the distinction of being the only animation to be nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award until Pixar’s Up got the nod earlier this year.

Showcasing the very best of the traditional Disney magic, but given a suitably modern twist, the film follows the adventures of the strong-willed and savvy Belle as she sacrifices her own happiness for the sake of her father and agrees to become a prisoner of the lonely and embittered Beast. While the emotionally complex relationship that develops between Belle and the Beast gives the film its heart, it’s the cast that surrounds them that elevates the film to another level, adding zest and wit to what at first could feel like a rather bleak narrative.

Add to that the stunning animation, and Alan Menken and Howard Ashmen’s unforgettable musical numbers, and you have a film that truly deserves its place as a modern animated masterpiece.

Picture: Wow! Disney has a track record of delivering some truly astonishing Blu-ray transfers of its classic animated features, but Beauty and the Beast’s gorgeous AVC 1.78:1 1080p visuals blow them all away. Every frame is an incredible work of art – bursting with clean line work, rich colours and incredibly fine detailing that picks out every mark and even imperfection in the hand-painted backdrops. And as for the celebrated CG ballroom sequence in Chapter 16 – simply jaw-dropping.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: This Disney classic comes to Blu-ray with a beauty of a DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix that knows just when to unleash its inner beast. The true majesty of the mix isn’t in its spatial effects, but in the richness and clarity of its dialogue and musical sequences. However, when needed, it can also tear up the soundfield with impressive effects like the mammoth bass accompanying the battering ram in Chapter 19 or the storm raging around you during the rooftop fight in Chapter 20.
Audio rating: 5/5

Extras: This three-disc Diamond Edition offers up pretty much everything a fan could hope for – including both the 85min original theatrical and 92min extended cuts of the film. On top of this you get picture-in-picture storyboards, an audio commentary, sing-along tracks, two deleted scenes, an interview with the composers, a featurette about the Broadway adaptation, an epic 157min interactive documentary featuring numerous branching bonuses (galleries, archival cartoons and more), a set-top game, music videos, trailers and TV spots, presentation reels, animation and camera tests, alternate scene and score material and much, much more. And you also get a DVD copy of the film for the kids.
Extras rating: 5/5

We say: This sensational Blu-ray presentation of a true animated classic should be on everyone’s Christmas list.

Walt Disney Home Entertainment, All-region BD/R2 DVD, £24 approx, On sale now