Film Review - Le Belle et la Bete


Le Belle et la Bete 

Release Date - 1948
Director - Jean Cocteau
Genre - Fantasy, Romance, Art Film, Drama.

Cinemas first adaptation of Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont's timeless fairytale La Belle et la bête (a.k.a. Beauty and the Beast) however even though this is a fairytale story it is hard to see this as one, the set alone gives it a very dark, daunting feel as Roy Armes also mentions early on in his review "but there is little evidence in Cocteau's approach of the childlike innocence" (Armes, 2001) 

The story is a delightful peak into the dreams and fantasies of this era, telling the story of an ugly beast whose heart is melted by the beautiful Belle, the story itself most people will already know from the early 1990's animated Beauty and the Beast (1991). This is a beautiful movie, it's a fairytale and it very much feels like that even though a very theatrical and nightmarish one. 

In Short what really starts the fairytale off is when Belle's father who is sentenced to death for picking a rose from Beast's garden. Belle offers to go back to the Beast in her father's place. The Beast falls in love with her and proposes marriage on a nightly basis which she refuses. Belle eventually becomes more drawn to Beast, who tests her by letting her return home to her family with the key to his treasure's magic and telling her that if she doesn't return to him within a week, he will die of grief.

During this film you may notice there are two very different set styles applied to each home, Belle's home and Beast's larger much more grande home. Now, Belle's home is very simple, wooden, shack like, well light and as you'd expect a house to look like back then. (Fig.2) Roy Armes talks about the contrast "The home life of Belle's family is parodied and often broadly farcial in tone, as, for instance, in the use of cackling ducks to comment on the attitudes of her sisters. By contrast, the departure of Belle for the Beast's castle and her entry there are totally stylised, with Cocteau employing slow motion photography to obtain a dreamlike effect." (Armes,2001) 

(Fig2) Belle's Home

When Belle first explores the Beast's home you see how much more dramatic it is, using darkness to it's advantage, this is highly affective allowing us to focus on whats really important in the shot, like in (fig.3) when Belle is walking through the main door all you focus on is the door, her and the strange arms holding the lights. You have the same effect in (fig.4) as Belle seamlessly floats down the corridor all you see is her and the open windows with the curtains blowing everywhere, this says a lot more than a well lit shot could, every set design being more about the feel it gives you over it being realistic or even practical as Roy Armes also mentions "Visually, the film is one of Cocteau's most sophisticated works. The costumes designed by Christian Bérard and the lighting and framing devised by Henri Alekan are decorative rather than functional and take their inspiration from classic Dutch painting, particularly the work of Vermeer." (Armes,2001)

(Fig.3) Belle entering beasts mansion

(Fig.4) Belle floating through dramatically lit scene 

Bibliography - 

Armes, Roy. (2001) (Beauty and the Beast)
In:http://www.encyclopedia.com 12.01.2001[Online]
At:http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3406800097.html (Accessed on the 2.11.14)

Illustration List - 

Figure 1. La Belle et la Bête (1946) From: La Belle et la Bête Directed By: Jean Cocteau [Film Poster] France: Lopert Pictures.
At: http://cineclap.free.fr/la-belle-et-la-bete-1946/la-belle-et-la-bete-1946-a04.jpg?lzv1sf

Figure 2. Beauty and the beast (la belle et la bete) (1946) From: La Belle et la Bête Directed By: Jean Cocteau [Film Still] France: Lopert Pictures.

Figure 3. La Belle et La Bête, 1946 directed by Jean Cocteau, film still (1946) From: La Belle et la Bête Directed By: Jean Cocteau [Film Still] France: Lopert Pictures.

Figure 4. la belle et la bête | the pandorian (1946) From: La Belle et la Bête Directed By: Jean Cocteau [Film Still] France: Lopert Pictures.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Becky, I am going to comment on your most recent post - but a quick point here... you have doubled up on the last quote!