Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Jan. 27, 2012

Enchanted once again

Daughters Mariya and Katie asked me to go with them to Walt Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" a couple of weekends ago. Adding 3-D doesn't enhance my theater experience sufficiently that I want to pay an additional $3 for the special glasses on top of the already high price of a ticket. But I love the "tale as old as time" almost as much as they do and so I couldn't say no. The original was released a little more than 20 years ago and it has become the girls' favorite Disney movie.

The three of us have seen a lot of animated cartoon movies over the years. Mariya was 3 when I took her to her first one, Disney's "The Little Mermaid." She loved it - except for the part when Ursula, the evil part-octopus sea witch, became angry. Mariya had been sitting in her own seat until that scene. Ursula grew larger as her anger increased. Suddenly, Mariya crawled into my lap, scrunched down as far as she could and covered her eyes.

We've also seen "Aladdin," "The Lion King," "Pocahontas," "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," "Hercules," "Mulan" and "Tangled."

My love of Disney movies began when I was a kid. Among my favorites were "Dumbo," "Bambi," "Cinderella," "Lady and the Tramp" and "One Hundred and One Dalmatians." So I'm not surprised the girls are fans, too.

Over the years, they've worn T-shirts, pajamas and other clothes emblazoned with Disney characters. Disney dolls, stuffed animals and tiny plastic figures have filled their bedroom shelves. I've even had their birthday cakes decorated with the iconic Disney characters.

They said they like "Beauty and the Beast" the best because main character Belle is an avid reader just as they are.

"Belle loves books," Katie said. "The Beast gives her a library with thousands of books. How much more romantic can you get than that?"

I'm not so sure how many other women would agree with her reasoning, but it works for her!

She also thinks the music is better and the animation is richer than Disney's other films.

Belle is also a favorite of Mariya.

"I found her inspirational when I was a wee babe because she was independent, intelligent and unafraid to stand up for herself and others she cared about," Mariya said. "I love all the songs and music, too."

I like those things, too, but I'm also always amazed when animators can make inanimate objects come to life. In "Beauty and the Beast," pans, silverware, napkins, wardrobes, footstools, clocks, candelabra, tea pots and cups in the enchanted castle talk, sing and dance across the screen. One of my favorite scenes is when various kitchen items prepare a feast for Belle while singing "Be My Guest."

Husband Art didn't join us to see "Beauty and the Beast," but he also enjoys animated movies, although his take is a bit different. He appreciated "The Little Mermaid" because he has always been entertained by comedienne Pat Carroll, who voiced the sea witch, and comedian Buddy Hackett, who was the voice of Scuttle the seagull. And he liked "Aladdin" because funny man Robin Williams was the voice of the genie.

But his favorite Disney cartoon was one he saw as a child - "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" segment from the 1940s version of "Fantasia." He liked the way it combined the beauty of classical music and the fun of animated figures.

To say we three girls enjoyed our night at the movie would be an understatement. As the credits rolled at the end, we were all singing the Academy Award-winning theme song, "Beauty and the Beast."

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

Left: Mariya receives the beast at Christmas 1992; middle: Mariya and her collection of assorted figures in 1995; right: Katie wearing her "Aladdin" pajamas in 1998.

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