Fig 1. Film poster
La Belle et la Bête, directed by Jean Cocteau is a French film released in 1946. It tells the legendary tale of a kind and beautiful merchant's daughter, Belle and the lonely, bad tempered Beast who lives in a castle discovered by Belle's father when he is lost in the woods. Belle takes her father's place as prisoner of the Beast who, despite her continually refusing, proposes to Belle every night at 7pm at dinner. Over time, however, Belle softens to the Beast when she realizes he is lonely and completely in love with her. The Beast allows Belle home to see her ailing father, but makes her promise to return otherwise he will die from grief. James Travers sums up his thoughts on the film in his review for www.frenchfilmsite.com : "Today, it is almost universally acknowledged as one of the greatest of cinematic masterpieces, virtually unrivalled in its intense lyrical power and sumptuous visual artistry."
Fig 3 - The Prince, still
Fig 2 - Avenant and Belle, still
The three main male characters, Avenant, The Beast and The Prince are all played by the same actor, Jean Marais and Belle is played by Josette Day. For the time that the film was made, Belle at times is shown to be quite a strong female and doesn't mince her words when it comes to talking to the Beast. For example, when stroking the Beast's face her says to her "You caress me as you would an animal," to which Belle replies "But you are an animal". The film is very magical and a lot of this is down to the production design. As David Parkinson reviews "With interior that owe much to the paintings of Dore and Vermeer, this visual feast is enhanced by the magical realism of Henri Alekan's photography, Christian Berard's exquisite costumes and Georges Auric's audacious score."
One can see how the Disney version of 'Beauty and the Beast', released in 1991, was hugely influenced by the 1946 version. The candelabras which seem to light themselves are almost identical to Lumiere from the cartoon and many of the scenes are filmed from very similar camera angles. The magical feel of the film is what makes it one of the most popular films of its time. James Travers goes on to say in his review "Jean Cocteau's La Belle et la bête is that rarest thing in cinema, a film that has the ability to transport an adult spectator into the realm of childhood imagination without ever appearing twee or childish."
Fig 4. la Belle et la Bete, still
Fig 5, Disney's Beauty and the Beast
Fig.1 - Film poster (1946) www.organicmechanic.org (Accessed on 10/11/14)
Fig.2 - Avenant and Belle still (1946) www.leninimports.com (Accessed on 10/11/14)
Fig.3 - The Prince still (1946) www.burningsettlerscabin.com (Accessed on 10/11/14)
Fig.4 - la Belle et la Bete still (1946) www.stuartfernie.org (Accessed on 10/11/14)
Fig.5 - Disney's Beauty and the Beast (1991) www.home.disney.com.sg (Accessed on 10/11/14)
Travers J. (2010) http://frenchfilmsite.com/review/1946-B/La_Belle_et_la_bete.html