La Bête et la Belle (Beauty and the Beast) is commonly known for being associated by the Disney classic had originally been a French innovation one after the collapse of the 2nd World War. In 1946 director Jean Cocteau envisioned the idea of a man cursed to look and behave like an animal. The interesting part of this idea, this innovation was the implication of sexual nature between the man and the girl.
The story is of a once wealth female who goes into problems and due to a missing ship. Effectively making their family paupers and hence beauty the house slave as it’s believed that sisters are the better looking of the family. Returning with news one day of his ship being sighted the father goes looking for the ship. Whilst getting lost in the forest he stumbles across the mansion where the beast lives. After venturing around the grounds the beast appears and offer the father a deal to give up his life or one of his daughters. Feeling at fault for not marrying Avenant and taking their family out of their pauper lifestyle; La Belle fleas to the Beast mansion to fully the request of the beast. From then on La Belle and the Beast attempt to look past La Bette monstrous ways and eventually fall in love.
The film was for its time was classic and to this day a well presented interpretation of the sexual nature of a man. The movie shows the strong powerful emotion of desire and ferocious passion that a man has metaphorically. But what was good was that although you could look and see that metaphorical value, you could also see the importance of love in this film and how although a man may be horny we’re still yearning for that passionate love between someone and ourselves.
With interiors that owe much to the paintings of Doré and Vermeer, this visual feast is enhanced by the magical realism of Henri Alekan's photography – David Parkinson
Furthermore the imagery really portrayed the idea of a mythical place, which considering the time was a feat itself. The artistic use of anatomy a part of the upholstery was a scary yet mystical enabling the view to understand that the mansion was not of a human environment but one of magical values. Yet I thought that the door and mirror dialogue was quite poor and ill choice in the film as I didn’t understand why all object that where animated in the house had to talk to la belle. In essence other element (i.e. lights or statues) all had part of the human anatomy be it an arm or head. Yet the door and mirror had neither and yet out of all they were the most intellectual. Perhaps maybe have the statues speak. I don’t know really and let face it am nit picking at this film.
'Marvellous surreal effects live on the mind’s eye long after the lights go up: the beast’s smoking paws; a living mantelpiece; the billowing white drapes as Belle is carried along a castle corridor, seemingly without moving her feet; and ethereal human arms brandishing candelabra.' – Louise Brealy
If I didn’t think for it time it was incredible and artistic in this day age the method of having set stages in which to stick by was well chosen for this film as the involvement of other areas would most likely confuse and bore viewers as a different landscape every seen become confusing and not depicted very well.
'Wonderfully designed by Christian Bérard complete with fantastic living statuary, and dignified by a Beast at once ferocious, erotic and genuinely tragic - are pure magic'
In conclusion I feel that although not a significantly well pieced element of work with area jumping clips in the film. The artistic value and metaphorical value for this piece is a testament to Jean Cocteau and his cast. Importantly being able to identify the spirit of a man who has passion and fercious sexual nature but also display another more soft side which is the yearning for a commitment to someone special and their own.