Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Film review:La Belle et la Bete

Fig.1 La Belle et la Bete poster

La Belle et la Bete was produced in 1946 and was directed by Jean Cocteau.

The film is about a woman called beauty who gives up her life to live in a mysterious castle. The reason beauty did this was to save her fathers life, as her father had wandered into the grounds of the beasts castle and picked a rose. This had made the beast angry and said he would kill the man if he did not give up one of his daughters.

'Belle has come to the castle as a hostage. She lives at home with her father, two unkind sisters and a silly brother, whose handsome friend wants to marry her. But she cannot marry, for she must care for Poppa. His business is threatened, and he learns on a trip to a seaport that he has lost everything. On his way home, through a forest on a stormy night, he happens upon the Beast's castle, and is taken prisoner and told he must die. The Beast offers a deal: He can go home if he will return in three days, or he can send one of his daughters. The other sisters of course sniff and make excuses, and their father says he is old and nearly dead and will return himself. But Belle slips out and rides the Beast's white horse, which knows the way to the castle. And the Beast's first words tell her, "You are in no danger." ' (Ebert,1999)

When Beauty first arrives at the castle the beast is no were to be seen, Beauty decides to wander into the castle as the door to the castle mysteriously opens on its on. As beauty walked inside the castle she came to a long and mysterious corridor with hands coming out of the wall holding candle lights.

As beauty walked down the corridor the candles one by one lit as she walked past them but also followed her, this straight away gave the castle a mysterious and magical feel.

Fig.2 Beauty and Beast together.

When beauty first see's the beast she is horrified by the ugliness of the beast and feels a sense of horror and fear. beauty wishes to leave the castle straight away but knows if she leaves her father will die.

The beast immediately becomes fond of beauty and tells her he will only see her at 7:00pm for dinner everyday, when the beast meets beauty for dinner he tells her he will ask the same question every time, until he gets an answer ( He asks for beauty to be his wife).

'A gorgeous, pin-sharp remaster for poet-dramatist-artist-director Jean Cocteau’s giddy, sumptuous 1946 retelling of the Freudian fairytale about a helpless girl and a kindhearted monster. Slightly pompous preamble aside, this ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is pure joy, a self-conscious but never precious attempt to revisit childhood fantasies and half-remembered dreams. The Beast’s ornate, decaying castle – ringed with thorns and filled with grasping hands – is a place of terror, wonder and mourning, the perfect reflection of its tragic, noble occupant. The tug of love between the monster and the maiden is never overplayed, but neither does the film shackle this beast – he remains unpredictable and threatening throughout.' (Tom Huddleston) (2013)

Time passes and beauty's father becomes ill over the fact that he has lost his daughter, beauty sees this as beast had given her a magical mirror in which she could see what she desired. From the news of her father beauty immediately begs the beast to leave for a week to see her father, beauty also said she will marry the beast if she is allowed. At first the beast does not allow beauty to leave, but out of the feelings that he is in love with beauty allows her to go. Before the beast lets beauty leave to see her father, he tells her that he would die if beauty did not return.

Fig.3 Beauty holding Beast by the river.

Beauty is given a magical glove that allows her to teleport to her fathers home, she is also given a golden key, which opens a tomb full of riches, beast tells her that this can be hers if he dies and holds trust in beauty that she will return.

Beauty then uses the glove and appears by her fathers bed side, on seeing beauty, her father is overjoyed and soon starts to recover. Beauty has two evil sisters, a brother and her brothers friend(Avenant) who is very fond of beauty. On learning of the key the two evil sisters come up with a plan to use Avenant to kill the beast and take the riches for themselves.

Fig.3 Beauty holding beast as he is dying.

Beauty learning that the beast had now fallen ill from beauty being away for so long, she hurry's back and finds the beast by a river. Meanwhile Avenant had found a magical horse that transported him to the beasts castle, when Avenant and beauty's brother had arrived they found the tomb and tried to use the key, the key did not work, so they decided to break in instead.

Avenant broke the glass ceiling of the tomb and asked beauty's brother to lower him down, as this happened a mysterious statue had a magical bow and arrow and shot Avenant in the back, immediately Avenant is transformed into the beast, while the beast changed into the image of Avenant. Beauty is shocked by this and said that beast now has the face of a man she had become fond of, Beast asked if this would be a problem but beauty decided it would not be.

'Cocteau plays up the differences between the ultra-realistic world of Belle's cottage -- with its huge white sheets hung up for drying in the backyard -- and Beast's castle, with its living statues with eyes that follow you wherever you go. When Belle first enters the castle, she moves in slow motion, as if running in a dream.

Though it tells the same story, and though I love both films very much, Cocteau's version could not be more different from Disney's 1991 version. Disney concentrates on warmth and comfort while Cocteau filters the story through the strangeness of dreams. In Cocteau, you can't quite get a firm handle on anything.' (



Roger Ebert (1999) http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-beauty-and-the-beast-1946

Tom Huddleston(2013) http://www.timeout.com/london/film/la-belle-et-la-bete-1

Jeffrey M. Anderson: http://www.combustiblecelluloid.com/classic/bellebete.shtml


Fig.1: http://dreason479.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/film-review-la-belle-et-la-bete-1946.html

Fig.2: http://www.moviemail.com/blog/cinema-reviews/1886-La-Belle-et-la-Bete-Cocteau-s-Gothic-classic-returns-to-cinemas/

Fig.3: http://www.visitluxembourg.com/en/whats-on/event/2013/02/19/la-belle-et-la-bete-jean-cocteau

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sam,

    You really need to be dedicating your film review to the production aspects of the films, rather than the retelling of the stories. This film, for example, is ideal for talking about the links between production/concept art, and the eventual outcome on film. You could have written about how Christian Berard's chalky concept pieces translated to the screen for example.

    Also, make sure that you only use the bits of a quote that are really underpinning what you are discussing at the time - your first quote by Ebert, for example, is just retelling the story outline (which you have just done yourself) and does not actually say anything of any substance. It is much better to have a short, succinct quote that supports your discussion, than a long one that that doesn't really add anything to your writing.