As the 25th anniversary of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” comes around the corner next year, we thought we’d take a look at this time of the year, 25 years ago, as a small team of artists from California and Europe add their contributions to the fairytale lore of a cinema classic. The team included the likes of producer Don Hahn, animators Andreas Deja and Glen Keane, Tom Sito from story, Jean Gilmore from visual development, Derek Gogol from London for production design, Michael Dudoc DeWitt from London as well for storyboard, and Hans Bacher for storyboard, color and design. Veteran artists Mel Shaw and Walt Stanchfied also contributed tothe production’s early concepts and storyboard designs.
In a blog by Bacher, the 40 year veteran artist and production designer shares his personal views and some incredible behind-the-scenes concept and storyboard art from the film.
If you’ve ever wanted to visit the real-life places that inspired the grand castles and landscapes that take place in the story, look no further than the French Loire-area. Although there were earlier locations that were considered like the black forest in southern Germany and the neighboring French Alsace, the influence of French author Charles Perrault and the Loire’s beautiful castles made the choice certain and led to the team spending a few days in the area to get the right inspiration.
Bacher’s blog shares some of the many concept variations for the film’s castle, based on the team’s favorite castles in the region, including Chambord, Usse, Chenonceau, Challaina, Beauregard, Chaumont and Brissac Quince, among others.
For a holistic view and even more incredible production artwork from the film, look no further than “Tale as Old as Time: The Art and Making of Beauty and the Beast.” The commentary follows the production of the film, from the history to the reception after it was screened. It even covers the updated edition for IMAX and the additional footage that was added. There’s also a chapter on the Broadway adaption.
The beautiful artistry of the early concept artists and animators for the film could only be followed by one person, famed movie poster artist, John Alvin. According to the recently published book on his works by wife and long-time partner, Andrea Alvin, Disney approached Alvin with the purpose of creating a poster aimed at appealing to adult audiences. His ability to create an iconic image with a sense of atmosphere and mystery was unique which is what made him the perfect choice for the project.
Alvin did several medium size paintings as color comps and at least two paintings that would be considered finishes. One was the couple dancing in front of a stained glass window featuring a rose, and the other was an image of the couple bathed in an ethereal light which was the image used on the final one-sheet.
I also recently came across this featurette below on the animation and history of the movie. Check it out!
Andrew M. Scott is a social and new media professional and a cinemaphile. Most of all, he’s a nerd of all things Disney. His first trip to Walt Disney World was 1995 at age 8. This article is posted with special thanks and permissions by Leslie Combemale and ArtInsights.