La Belle Et La Bête
(Beauty and the Beast)
La Belle et La Bête is a French film made in the 1946 directed by Jean Cocteau, a French poet and filmmaker. The film is a loose adaptation of the fairytale story written by Madame Leprince de Beaumont, which has the same title.
I have to say I quite enjoyed this film. The things I liked most about it were the various special effects and puppetry they used, and the progression of the storyline. For a film made in the 1940s the special effects (or cinematic tricks as they called it) used were amazing. They used smokescreens, puppetry effects (e.g. the beast’s ears moving), dreamlike effects, superimposition, slow motion, backwards playback and other effects to create the perfect atmosphere in each set. I especially liked the scene where Belle is running through the corridor in the castle in slow motion, although it’s a simple touch it really does well to captures the feeling of mixed emotions she’s having.
La Belle running through the corridor of candles in slow motion.
Here’s a quote from filmcritic.com talking about the plot of the film
“She enters the Beast's world completely afraid of him but in time she grows to pity and then understand him. Ultimately she falls in love with him for his inner beauty rather than his external ugliness. And just about the time she accepts him for his ugly nature, he turns into a prince.”
This is the main thing I like in terms of storyline about this film. They make a beautiful woman fall in love with a beast of a man not out of fear or sympathy, but for who he actually is. However in the film it looked to me like she fell for him entirely AFTER he turns into a prince and not before, which is what I didn’t like and thought spoilt the ending a bit. I was a little disappointed because why not let her fall in love with the beast and be done with it, instead of making him magically rise from the floor as a prince and THEN be whisked away into the sunset happily ever after? This is just my opinion on what I would have preferred to see so I’m sure others will disagree, but I feel it’s just too cliché for the woman to be beautiful and the man to be handsome all the time. Also there are little mottos in this film like “never judge a book by its cover” for instance, but with the ending how it was it in some ways makes these things meaningless. I think this quote hints where I’m coming from…
“The aura of amour drifts through every scene, underpinning the story and leading us to a triumphant conclusion which celebrates the victory of love over all obstacles (although it is intriguing that the transformation removes an essential element from the Beast)”
Anyway moving on, I think this film was very creative when it came to setting the scene in the castle. I especially like the idea of having random arms that pop out from the wall holding the candles instead of just normal chandeliers. I think details like these really capture the moment while watching a film, even the small details such as the flowers and bushes that conceal hidden pathways; it all really brings you into their world.
“Aside from it being a fairy tale love story, it is a feast of visual delights. This is achieved through the amazing special effects and editing.”
La Belle Et La Bête’s creativity obviously strives towards perfection in its time, if you wish to be taken "someplace else", don't miss it. However If you watch the movie for plot and character development, you'll be disappointed. The reason I say this is because the film is just a fairy tale love story, there is no real plot and the beast is just a man in a suit (sorry to burst anyone’s bubble). None the less the film is still great in conjunction to its visuals and emotion, you could say it is more of a work of art then a film based on structure and plotlines. My overall conclusion is that I thoroughly enjoyed the film, the special effects were brilliant and I think this was made well before its time. This film is easily watchable to this day without it being boring of lacking in quality.