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Warning: minor spoilers for Beauty and The Beast are in play. If you don't want to be spoiled, stay out of the West Wing and read some of our other coverage on this tale as old as time. However, if you don't care about spoilers, or are reading this after you've seen the film, then be our guest.
The live-action remake of Beauty and The Beast is sure to win over fans both old and new, as it's basically the story of the 1991 film but expanded and including new material. In some cases, that material comes through the new and revised musical numbers that were included in the film. Numbers like "How Does A Moment Last Forever?" and "Evermore" give characters that never sang on screen a voice, while "Gaston" has some added pomp and bluster that only makes the madman all the more endearing. And yet, for all of the songs they remembered to bring back from past iterations, the best song in the Beauty and The Beast canon was omitted yet again. That's right, they neglected to include "Human Again."
Originally written for the 1991 film, but cut from the finished product, "Human Again" was originally a lengthy sequence that detailed the hopes and dreams of all of the castle staff from Beauty and The Beast held for when the spell was broken. The song was nixed from the film, but eventually was included in the Broadway musical, and eventually the film's 2002 special edition. The reasoning for the song's deletion came about in an interview with legendary Disney composer Alan Menken, in which he told The Hollywood Reporter the following:
I love that song, but it was a nine-minute number and problematic because of the logic of the story. So instead, we used 'Something There,' since both deal with Belle and the Beast falling in love and everyone anticipating becoming human again.
However, the number was eventually completed with a brisker-paced version of the song proceeding "Something There" in the film's running order. The funny thing is, the song not only works perfectly alongside its eventual successor, it gives the supporting cast of Beauty and The Beast a traditional "I Want" song, which only further bolsters their personalities. In case you haven't heard it for yourself, or you just want to give the song another whirl yourself, you can watch the sequence in the video below.
So why is this "the best" Beauty and The Beast song? Well, for starters, it's a catchy waltz that helps energize the film around its mid-point. While the story of Belle and The Beast's courtship is eternal, it's definitely something that needs the right amount of songs to become a Disney classic. Much like "Gaston," the number explores a part of the story outside of the love story at the heart of the film, and engages in some light, colorful entertainment.
But, there's one major point for the live-action version of Beauty and The Beast that makes "Human Again" more relevant than it's ever been before: it gives the supporting cast's story more importance. While The Beast's humanity is at stake, so is that of the various servants and staff members that live in the castle alongside him. We know this because we see their transformation at the beginning of the film, when Prince Adam spurns Agathe the Enchantress, who approaches him in the beginning of the film. Their fates are more intertwined with The Beast's than ever, and their wants and needs are now just as important. So much, in fact, that we're actually made to feel the pain of their transformations into household appliances when it looks like The Beast is dead and the curse sealed.
With all of that thematic weight now shared with Lumiere, Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, and the rest of the castle staff, surely "Human Again" should have been included as a proper reinforcement of the importance of the supporting cast. After all, without their efforts, Belle would have never fallen for The Beast, and the spell would have run its course. Yes, it's chiefly a story about the lovers and their reluctant romance, but it would have been a much colder, more insurmountable task without some help from The Beast's old friends.
Perhaps the greatest reason "Human Again" should have been included in the live-action Beauty and The Beast is the fact that in its animated form, the sequence is a marvel to behold, which could have translated into a gorgeous set-piece for the 2017 version's visual buffet. With all of the objects in the castle reviving the long dormant dwelling to its original splendor, imagining that segment in director Bill Condon's CGI spectacular is something that is too impressive to have passed up.
The fate of Beauty and The Beast never hinged on "Human Again," and it never will. It's a song that doesn't feature the leads, and if you really need to trim something, this is the sort of song that always winds up on the chopping block. But seeing how the new live-action film used the supporting cast that the song centers around, it really would have been a wise idea to reinstate the sequence, allowing for the tireless compatriots of The Beast to finally get their due. "Human Again" was the song that could have really tied the movie together, and it's a real shame that it was left out in the cold once more.