LA BELLE ET LA BETE (1946)
LA BELLE ET LA BETE (Beauty And The Beast) directed by Jean Cocteau in 1946 is a romantic fantasy about a beast who tries his upmost to win the heart of the beautiful belle “Beauty and the Beast (1946) bluntly celebrates a love that privileges interior beauty over external repulsiveness.” (MILLER, 2002). The hairy beast is stuck hard by the beauty of Belle played by Josette Day from the moment he identifies her. From then on we are taken in by how there relationship develops from Belle not being able to look at him because of his physical appearance to her missing him when she goes away to visit her father.
Bête played by Jean Marais is portrayed as a monstrous animal with no heart when he is introduced in the forest when Belle ‘s father picks up a flower on her request. Bête threatens to kill him for taking the flower and gives him an option of placing one of his daughters for his consequences upon his wrongdoing. From this moment on bête is portrayed as a monster with no humanity. But as the film goes on we realise that bête is more lonely and misunderstood then anything else.
This film also celebrates theatrical/dramatic sequences. “As Belle first enters the beast’s domain, she seems to run dreamily a few feet above the floor” (Ebert, 1991). It’s a magical film but in that period of time CG effects were not apparent but what Cocteau did was he turned the film into a theatre like performance. The gravity of each movement has a meaning to it. When Belle shares a tear (which turns into a diamond) thinking about bête signifies that he arouses her. She is softened by his kindness and pities him.
This film holds high the statement ‘love doesn’t cost a thing but being your self’. The fact that the hideous beast through words and a good heart can lure the beautiful Belle states that even the worst of us can have someone caring for us.
List of images:
Image 02: http://www.leninimports.com/jean_cocteau_la_belle_et_la_bete_gallery.html
Published Tuesday, Aug 12 2002
Published December 26, 1991