Films released on DVD offer a wealth of resources that can be harnessed for the classroom. The Diamond Edition of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is a fine example of this. The blue ray edition offers teachers a plethora of resources including:
- Special Extended and Original Theatrical Editions: Two versions of Beauty and the Beast are available from the outset. A 92-minute “Special Extended Edition” and the film’s 85-minute theatrical cut.
- Storyreel Picture-in-Picture Experience: Students can view the theatrical cut alongside the filmmakers’ original storyreel, an incredibly early version of the film that features rough animation, hand-drawn storyboards and other preproduction artwork.
- Audio Commentary: Producer Don Hahn and co-directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale discuss the Special Extended Edition of Beauty and the Beast and waste little time doing so. The trio dissect the story and characters, the animation techniques utilized throughout the film, its place in Disney history, the dialogue and songs, casting and the voice recording sessions, the challenges they faced during its long and complex production and much, much more. It’s a thoroughly engaging and informative track that should not be missed.
- Sing Along Track: The Special Extended cut even offers a text-based “Sing Along Mode” for center based learning or sing along as a group.
- Fast Play: Looking for yet another way to watch Beauty and the Beast? In a fit of overkill, the BD wizards at Disney have also devised a “Fast Play Mode” that allows you to customize and automate the viewing experience based on classroom time constraints.
- Beyond Beauty (HD, 157 minutes): An interactive, feature-length behind-the-scenes documentary teeming with worthwhile bonus content all its own (simply press “enter” when the on-screen icons appear to extend the experience further). A handy pop-up menu even keeps track of which sub-featurettes and branching segments you have and haven’t watched, making the whole of the documentary as effortless as it is extensive.
- Classic DVD Bonus Features (SD, 62 minutes): The previously released DVD’s high quality materials are included as well, albeit in standard definition. “The Story Behind the Story” digs into seven separate Disney films; Hahn presides over an early presentation reel and an alternate version of “Be Our Guest;” Menken unveils an alternate score for “The Transformation;” Hahn and Menken introduce “Human Again,” a deleted song comprised of storyboards; a collection of “Animation Tests, Roughs & Clean-Ups” proves to be an all-too-short treat; a “Camera Move Test” provides a glimpse at the virtual sets created for the film’s most complex shots; a “Music Video” features Celine Dion performing “Beauty and the Beast;” and a series of trailers and TV spots will satisfy completists.
- Composing a Classic (HD, 20 minutes): Composer Alan Menken, music agent and Disney historian Richard Kraft, and producer Don Hahn chat at length about the film’s rousing songs and musical score, as well as the art of furthering a story through music.
- Broadway Beginnings (HD, 13 minutes): A string of name-that-face celebrities, production team members and stage actors wax poetic about the Broadway adaptation of the film.
- Music Video (HD, 3 minutes): Jordin Sparks performs “Beauty and the Beast.”
- Enchanted Musical Challenge (HD): A more accessible game in which players have to search the Beast’s castle and answer trivia questions to find four of Belle’s friends.
Many reviewers don’t see the value in some of the resources in the Diamond Edition but for those of in the classroom, its a powerful tool that allows us to incorporate pop culture into our lesson plans.