Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Film Review - La Belle et La Bete (1946)

Fig. 1 La Belle et La Bete (1946) Movie Poster

Jean Cocteau's La Belle et La Bete (1946), translated as "The Beauty and the Beast" marked the beginning of fairy tales being shown at the cinema. It's wonderful style has been the source of inspiration for many classic films and it's emotional story is something we can relate to. 

Fig. 2 Belle's Father in the Beast's house

The film is one of the first, if not the first, in cinema to have a deep message about romance and love, as it tells us that Beauty can be found in anyone. What starts of as a story about fear towards the Beast, it later develops into us caring for the Beast and hoping for his safety, rather than the well being of Belle's family and friends.We continue to sympathise with the Beast as he continues to insult himself and believes that no one will love him due to his appearance. We see through his menacing face and bear-like hands, and see a man who adores Belle and would do anything for her. Unfortunately for the Beast, however, it does take time for Belle to really start to see his true side and not the monster that her eyes see.

Fig. 3 Belle 

The Beast's house is extraordinarily designed.  It has arms as candle holders, men as fire place pillars and a labyrinth of a garden. All of this, therefore, creates the impression that the house is alive and it has an equal amount of magic behind it as the cursed man of the Beast. This incredible setting increases the level of mystery behind the Beast and the amount of fear that Belle would have when first encountering the Beast. This magical set piece has inspired many fairy tale films since, especially that of Disney's adaptation of the film. Roger Ebert spoke in his review about how wonderully complex the setting is and how difficult it would be for the director to create. "Cocteau was not sure he had the technical mastery for such an ambitious production" - (Ebert,1999). It can be argued that without the magic of the house, the film wouldn't be quite so unique for it's time and would now just be regarded as another story about romance and maybe wouldn't have lead there now being several adaptations of the film. Jeff Vice refers to the film's excellence and it being a great source of inspiration. And this magical adaptation of the much-filmed Jean-Marie Leprince de Beaumont tale clearly inspired much of the imagery for the Disney version.’ (Vice, 2007).

Fig. 4 Belle with the "Beast"

Although the film, arguably, has it's odd cheesy and quite far fetched ideas, especially the very last scene, the film is a true pioneer for all fairy tales. It's incredible environment's magic has been demonstrated through the years and it's message will hold it's place in cinema history. And as Tom Milne greatly summed up in his review "Cocteau's fairy tale set standards in fantasy which few other film-makers have reached." - (Milne, 2006)

Illustration List:

Fig. 1 La Belle et La Bete (1946) Movie Poster - (Accessed 26/11/2014)

Fig. 2 Belle's Father in the Beast's house (Accessed 26/11/2014)

Fig. 3 Belle (Accessed 26/11/2014)

Fig. 4 Belle withe the "Beast" (Accessed 26/11/2014)


Ebert, Roger (1999) - La Belle et La Bete (1946) Review - (Accessed 26/11/2014)

Milne, Tom (2006) - La Belle et La Bete (1946) Review  - - (Accessed 26/11/2014)

Vice, Jeff (2007) - Film review: 1946 'Beauty and Beast' is enthralling (Accessed 26/11/2014)

1 comment:

  1. Much more consistent and easier to read Dan :)