La Belle et la Bête (1946) Film Review
|Fig 1: Film Still|
Jean Cocteau's La Belle et la Bête (The beauty and the beast) is a French film from 1946. Beginning with ‘Once upon a time’, La Belle et la Bête is a fairy tale story about a young woman who falls in love with a horrific, ferocious looking but gentle-hearted beast (Jean Marais). Josette Day, Belle, is the lead female protagonist in this film, and she plays a character who appears as a servant to her family, especially her sisters. The Beast is a character who is first introduced as a menacing and frightening figure, who is going to kill Belle’s father for stealing a rose from his garden, but we are introduced to a different, misunderstood, more humane side of the Beast alongside Belle.
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This film is surreal, enchanting and magical in its optical effects, which are very advanced and modern for the time of it’s release in 1946. The set design is very fantastical and somewhat whimsical, with its fantasy elements such as chandeliers help up by arms extruding from walls, hands coming out of tables to serve guests and moving sculptures with eyes that follow wherever the characters go. Because of the dramatic contrast of black and white used in the ‘haunted’ mansion where the Beast lives, it gives off chilling, ghostly and eerie vibes which makes the Beast seem much more ambiguous.
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“The simple and surreal effects bind the spell: by using the tangible magic of hands through walls, moving statues, steamy paws and the rest, Cocteau makes rapt believers of us all – adults and children alike.”- Kevin Harley, 2013. As Harley states in this review, all viewers are immersed wholly in this world that Cocteau creates, not by the use of modern CG technology which we see nowadays, but by timeless, classical and simple effects that will remain an eternally effective way to create an air of mystery and illusion.
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Despite the rich and elaborate sets in this almost haunted environment, and a main character being a monster, the film remains very peaceful throughout and almost seems like we are watching a dream, not a film. There are elements throughout which make the film seem dreamlike; for example when Belle is first introduced to the mansion and there are billowing white floating curtains all around her, exaggerated doorways and hallways, and the character herself almost dancing through it as she explores her surroundings. The film progressively gets more and more magical as it nears the end, with the Beast revealing his magic and powers, and ending the film with a sequence of Belle and the newly transformed handsome Beast leaping and flying into the air.
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This film bears a lot of resemblance to many classical fairy tale Disney films such as Cinderella, because of the similar situation in which Cinderella and Belle are abused by their sisters and treated as a servant to them. Despite the familiarity and the unoriginality of the story, La Belle et la Bête remains a truly unique adaptation of The Beauty and the Beast, and is unlike any other in its sublime surrealism and dreamy ambience.
http://dramatica.com/articles/la-belle-et-la-bete (Accessed on 27/10/15)
https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=la+belle+et+la+bete+1946&stick=H4sIAAAAAAAAAONgecR4jJFb4OWPe8JSexgnrTl5jXErIxdXcEZ-uWteSWZJpdAyRi42KFOGi1eKUz9X38Ak2zAjRYNBipsLwZUqEZLgEtRPzs_JSU0uyczP00_LzMktFuVZX2JnwGglnJOokJQKlFNILVEAs0tSg3j00_UNDcuyzKqSjDOCuEE8I6NKU7OivNxjdUfsqgS4UFRIMFbxcyGrkmBU4uBgEGCVYFAQ5gEAwW-7PswAAAA (Accessed on 27/10/15)
http://www.gamesradar.com/la-belle-et-la-bete-review/(Accessed on 27/10/15)
Figure1: https://www.berlinale.de/media/filmstills/2014_1/retrospektive_9/20143098_1_IMG_FIX_700x700.jpg (Accessed on 27/10/15)
Figure2: http://fr.web.img6.acsta.net/videothumbnails/195/378/19537834_2013091115403491.jpg (Accessed on 27/10/15)
Figure4: http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02787/belleetbete_2787366b.jpg (Accessed on 27/10/15)
Figure 5: https://s-media-cacheak0.pinimg.com/236x/48/cc/c4/48ccc47751ad740c92289a5a62394ba3.jpg (Accessed on 27/10/15)