French film La Belle Et La Bete directed by Jean Cocteau

The 1946 French film La Belle Et La Bete directed by Jean Cocteau was one of the most technologically advanced films of its time. This was of course before computer animations and advanced make up. One of the advances were the human arms moving as they held the candelabras in his castle (which was a mixture of Xanadu and Dali), also the heads and eyes of the statutes following the characters around. I believe that the statues are the people the beast has enslaved, killed, or held there by the magic he possesses- the fact that when moving around after being at the beast's castle, Belle seems to float or hover off of the ground. She is also disturbed to see smoke rising off of the beasts hands, which means that the beast has killed before, which could tie back into the statues. The doors opened without being touched and when Belle entered her room for the first time, in the beasts arms, her clothing went from that of a peasant, to that of a queen.

The film noir styling indicates that the director wanted this lighting to be as dramatic as the story plot, which was vastly different from the innocent 1991 Disney rendition of the story. In the beginning of the film, the beast was often in the shadows, while Belle was in the light, making it seem as though Belle is a radiant, selfless, woman. She is seen as the innocent farm girl that could do no wrong. And it projects the beast as a scary and horrible monster. However, as the film goes on and as Belle starts to love the beast, he starts to have the light shine on him, too. That could mean that her goodness is rubbing off on him, that he is no longer being seen as a scary monster, or it could just be that he is starting to accept himself because of her loving him. He also told her to never look him in the eyes, even though a loving look would turn him back into a human prince. He did not feel worthy in her presence. He yelled at her when she went to bow and told her, it is not you that should be on your knees, it is I that should be bowing for you. The beast stressed to her that whatever she wanted, she could have and her every whim should be fulfilled while she was with him.

The sisters were only jealous of Belle because she was beautiful and Avenant was in love with her. Felicie was in love with Avenant, but no matter how expensive she tried to make herself look, he only had eyes for her sister, the maid. Felicie wanted to impress Avenant with her beauty and money. And he was oblivious to her love filled glances and apparent feelings for him. She adored his bravery and masculinity and it made her angry at Belle that she treated Belle like a maid and peasant so it would make Felicie look better in front of Avenant.

At the end of the film when Avenant tries to steal from and kill the beast, he breaks into Dianes Pavilion where he gets shot with an arrow and turns into a beast and the beast returns to his form as a prince. The whole reason the beast was the beast, and Avenant also, was because of love. The beasts parents love got him cursed, and Avenon loved Belle so much that he broke into the pavilion for the treasure to treat her well when he steals her away from the beast.

Though there was minimal dialogue between the characters, the story was mostly pantomime. The music of George Auric set the moods of the movie, whether wistful, aggressive, or subtlety curious. The setting also expressed a lot of emotion and the uniqueness of the palace was beautifully haunting. The costumes were enchanting and also relevant to the time period of the film. They were sparkly and imaginative, adding a royal feel to the beast and his guest. The film was made shortly after the end of WWII and Jean Cocteau wanted to show the people a fantasy where the hideous beast turns into a handsome prince all because a young woman fell in love with him. It was made to project the concept of dont judge a book by its cover to people. La Belle et La Bete was a classical film in the story sense, but the way it was executed was almost formalistic.



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