INTRODUCTION. Disney is an excellent example of a Media corporation as it is known worldwide, go anywhere in the world and ask someone about Mickey Mouse or Daffy Duck and they will know that you are talking about Disney. They have a huge range of advertising and merchandise ranging from children’s books and films to holiday resorts and theme parks. The Disney brand appeals to all, children and adults alike.
Beauty and the Beast is a classic film using old-style animation techniques. It has been recently digitally re-mastered for the next generation to enjoy the magic of Disney. In comparison Toy Story uses computer-generated images which saves time and gives a more realistic feel to the film.
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Although these are very different films they still have some similarities. In both films, the main characters go on journeys to learn something about life or about themselves. In Beauty and the Beast, the main characters are human if you count the Beast as a human and in Toy Story the main focus is on the toys. Both films appeal to a wide audience although Toy Story has some more mature humour and references to more adult-orientated films.
DEVELOPMENT. Woody is a very stereotypical cowboy. The boots, cowboy hat and phrases his voice box say all add to his character. His costume makes you know straight away that Woody is a cowboy. Woody is the villain in Toy Story at the beginning of the film when Buzz first arrives in the bedroom. He is jealous of Buzz as he is not getting the same respect from his friends as before. The other toys now admire Buzz whereas before it was Woody who was their leader.
The main reason behind this is they were relieved it was Woody being ‘replaced’ and not them. It is also because Buzz is so cool; he is brand new and shiny with lots of cool gadgets. As the story moves on, Woody begins to change and realize that Buzz is not a threat as he first assumed. He begins to change to what he was before, leading the way and setting a good example. He helps them get to Pizza Planet and saves Buzz from being blown up by a firework by their evil next-door neighbour, Sid.
Sid is a villainous character; he destroys toys for fun and is feared by all toys. Woody shows his outstanding leadership again when he organizes the toys in a revolt against Sid, leaving him shaken and very scared. He is a very dark character, and this is shown by his image, a black t-shirt with a skull on, scruffy hair and chipped, black teeth. His dog Scud is like a sidekick sharing Sid’s hate for toys, regularly chewing them to pieces.
The way the toys are represented is essential; when there are humans around, the toys are looked down on from a higher perspective. The toys were first seen as inanimate objects, Andy’s playthings. This changes when the toys are ‘alive’; they are looked at from their perspective or what they are seeing. When Buzz is first seen in the bedroom, the camera angle changes to give him a look of superiority and power, the camera looks at him from a shallow view and then slowly reveals the rest of his body.
In the castle, everything is enormous compared to Belle to make her look smaller; when she is with the Beast, you often see her from the Beast’s point of view of the side, which makes her look smaller again. The use of lighting is also essential, Andy’s room is bright and colourful compared to Sid’s bedroom which is dark and gloomy. Andy’s room uses bright colours well such as blue for the walls. Sid’s room has a dark green light on and appears to be black; there are lots of luminous posters on the well. There is a clear contrast between the two characters and their environments.
Beauty and the Beast are similar; the prince/beast begins as the villain. He is represented as a dark character, evil-looking and scary, with a temper to match. The colours used for his clothes represent his royalty; deep purples are used for his robes. His surroundings are set in the same way; they are very dark and gloomy. His castle always had thunder and lightning, and dark clouds around it before the Beast began to change. With Belle’s influences, the castle and the Beast begin to change gradually, the Beast and the castle at its ‘best’ before Gaston arrives and after when the Beast had changed back.
It is a lot lighter, and Belle and the Beast’s clothing changes, Belle in a yellow dress and the Beast in blue robes. The changes in time are shown with the seasons changing, the petals falling from the rose and the servant’s change of attitude as they become impatient. Another villainous character is Gaston; he is the town’s girls’ dream man. He is very confident, handsome and charming. Belle is the girl he wants, though, and is set on winning her hand in marriage. At the beginning of the film, he comes across as quite charming but begins to change. Towards the end of the film, he is shown more as a dark character when he attacks the Beast’s castle and the Beast.
The turning point in Gaston’s character was when he was set to propose to Belle but was turned down and embarrassed when he fell into the puddle of mud. This was slapstick comedy. Many of the characters in Beauty and the Beast risk their own lives at one point in the film to save someone else’s. For example, Belle’s father set out to save Belle, knowing full well he could die trying; Belle then gave up her own life to save her fathers by promising to be the Beast’s ‘prisoner’ for the rest of her life. Similarly, the Beast chases after Belle when she leaves the castle and fights the wolves attacking her; this scene also changes our perspective of the Beast.
The plots differ as Beauty, and the Beast is a love story; the Beast has to win Belle’s heart to gain his and his servant’s old life back; Toy Story is more about getting along with people and working as a team. At first, Woody feels threatened and jealous of Buzz but learns that they can get along and work together as a team. They are similar as in both stories, the characters have to go on journeys to learn about themselves. Woody’s and Buzz’s takes them around their town, but Belle and the Beasts stay in the castle and its grounds. Both sets of characters learn a lesson by the end of the films.
There is much more talking in Toy Story, whereas in Beauty and the Beast, things happen or are told in song. Another similarity is that in both films, everything goes right at the last possible moment, Buzz and Woody getting back to Andy while they are on the way to the new house and Belle telling the Beast she loves him as he dies last petal falls. The plots appeal to audiences because, although Toy Story is aimed at children, it has lots of more mature jokes and scenes; these help it appeal to a broader audience. It has a lot more inter-textuality than Beauty and the Beast, with references to ‘The Exorcist’ among others.
This is a very mature film, which shows they are aiming at an older audience. The idea of toys ‘living’ when your are not there is one fantasy many people have dreamed of. It is hilarious at the same time too. Beauty and the Beast is a romantic story and will appeal to the more emotional of people. Still, children at the same time, because of the horror and fantasy element of a Prince changed into a beast and his servants being turned into various household items.
Beauty and the Beast hook the audience well, there is a spell cast over a castle, and a prince turns into a very interesting beast. It then becomes pleased and cheerful with Belle breaking into a song for a period that interests the audience. The opening sequence of Toy Story immediately interests the audience with the living toys and the conflict between Woody and Buzz, Buzz being the new toy. The toys believe that Buzz is Andy’s new favourite toy and Woody is being replaced.
CONCLUSION. These films are very effective in what they want to do. Beauty and the Beast want to enchant the audience with a tale of love, magic and horror; it has many songs that help the viewer become interested in the story. They feel more involved with the film, and the music and songs add atmosphere. Toy Story wants to teach the audience about working as a team and helping yourself and others overcome problems. It does this well, but without letting you know, it has. The meaning is there very clearly, and you learn it, but the way the film is presented makes it fun and humorous along the way.
Since Beauty and the Beast was made a lot has changed about the Disney image, they are not just making films for children anymore and are aiming at a much wider audience. The animation techniques have changed too, in Beauty and the Beast they used hand-drawn frames and in Toy Story, it is digitally animated using computers. This makes the whole process a lot faster and easier. As a member of the Disney audience, I enjoy the more recent digitally animated films than the older films but can still appreciate them for how good they are. I don’t believe my views are based on the look of the films but I prefer the plots and humour in the newer films.