Although we think we are all familiar
with fairy tales like Beauty and the Beast, there is much
more to them than we ever learned in the Nursery.
Jean Cocteau's version of Beauty and the
Beast is very far away from the nursery version, so don't
expect an anodyne Walt Disney style film. Think rather,
sparkling surrealism and magical special effects achieved
while the supporting technology was still at its most basic.
An old man sets out one night in the fog
to go home. He finds himself on the property of the Beast,
a half-human creature, possessed of magic powers, .
The Beast captures the old man when he
picks a rose from the Beast's garden, but lets him go on
condition that he brings one of his daughters to take his
Bella, who is a Cinderella figure to her
two sisters, and for whom her father had picked the rose,
agrees to go, and arrives at the Beast's castle, where she
takes up residence.
In time she realises that despite his
Bestial appearance and magical powers, her new custodian
has a human heart within - more than usually gentle, and
more than usually tortured.
Bela returns home to visit her ailing
father, an event which triggers unforeseen consequences
and the eventual denouement.
The film is famed not only for its graceful
story, but also for the sets and atmosphere. It is entirely
in tune with the original dark folk tales that we have so
often converted into children's stories.
A genuine World classic, though
the very end might seem a little too Holywwod fairy tale
Genre: Drama / Fantasy
Runtime: 96 min / USA:93 min
Country: France / Luxembourg
Colour: Black and White
Sound Mix: Mono
Directed by: Jean Cocteau
Jean Cocteau (story & dialogue)
Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont (story)
Jean Marais, La Bête/The Prince/Avenant
Josette Day, Belle
Mila Parély, Félicie
Nane Germon, Adélaïde
Michel Auclair, Ludovic
Raoul Marco, The usurer
Marcel André, Belle's father
Philip Glass composed an opera synchronized to the film.
Eliminating the original soundtrack, he composed the opera
to be performed along with the film projected behind the
orchestra and singers. The compact disc recording of Glass's
"La Belle et la Bête" can be played alongside
Singing voices (1995 opera version)
Janice Felty, La Belle
John Kuether, The Father/The usurer
Ana María Martinez, Félicie
Hallie Neill, Adélaïde
Gregory Purnhagen, La Bête / Avenant
/ Ardent / The port official
Zhang Zhou, Ludovic
Click on the appropriate national flag for details of the
DVD from Amazon