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7. La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast)

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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 place.

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 for some.

Genre: Drama / Fantasy
Year: 1946
Runtime: 96 min / USA:93 min
Country: France / Luxembourg
Colour: Black and White
Sound Mix: Mono

Directed by: Jean Cocteau
Writing credits
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 the film.

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

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The titles (in the US) of the best French films, sorted by title

  Title Year
8 Women2001
Music, Comedy, Crime, Mystery
François Ozon
A Heart in Winter1992
Romance, Drama, Music
Claude Sautet
Beauty and The Beast1946
Fantasy Drama, Romance
Jean Cocteau
Belle de Jour1967
Erotic Drama
Luis Buñuel
Betty Blue1986
Romace, Drama
Jean-Jacques Beineix
Birds Of A Feather1978
Edouard Molinaro
Bitter Moon1992
Sado-masochistic Erotic Drama
Roman Polanski
Drama, Romance
Jean-Luc Godard
Children of Paradise1945
Drama, Romance
Marcel Carne
10 Cyrano de Bergerac1990
Romance, Drama
Jean-Paul Rappeneau
11 Delicatessen1991
Sci-Fi Comedy
Marc Caro & Jean-Pierre Jeunet
12 Diva1981
Action Thriller, Drama
Jean-Jacques Beineix
13 French Twist1995
Josiane Balasko
14 Hidden2005
Michael Haneke
15 Hiroshima, Mon Amour1959
Romance, Drama
Alain Resnais
16 Jean de Florette1986
Drama, Modernised Greek Tragedy
Claude Berri
17 Jesus of Montreal1989
Denys Arcand
18 Jules et Jim1961
Romance, Drama
François Truffaut
19 La Controverse de Valladolid1992
History (16thC), Drama
Jean-Daniel Verhaeghe
20 La Femme Nikita1990
Crime, Thriller, Romance, Drama
Luc Besson
21 Manon of the Spring1986
Drama, Romance, modernised Greek Tragedy
Claude Berri
22 Monsieur Hire1989
Crime Thriller, Romance, Drama
Patrice Leconte
23 My Life in Pink1997
Comedy Drama
Alain Berliner
24 One Swallow Brought Spring2001
Comedy, Romance, Drama
Christian Carion
25 Queen Margot1994
History (16thC) Drama, Biography, History, Romance
Patrice Chéreau
26 Ridicule1996
History (18thC) Drama
Patrice Leconte
27 Swimming Pool2003
Psychological Thriller, Mystery Drama
François Ozon
28 The 400 Blows1959
Crime Drama
François Truffaut
29 The Big Blue1988
Drama, Romance
Luc Besson
30 The City of Lost Children1995
Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro
31 The Closet2001
Comedy Drama
Francis Veber
32 The Discrete Charm of the Bougoisie1972
Surreal Black Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
Luis Buñuel
33 The Dominici Affair1973
Crime Drama Mystery
Claude Bernard-Aubert
34 The Double Life of Veronique1991
Music, Fantasy, Romance, Psychological Drama
Krzysztof Kieslowski
35 The Fabulous Destiny of Amelie Poulain2001
Comedy, Romance, Drama
Jean-Pierre Jeunet
36 The Girl On The Bridge1999
Comedy, Romance, Fantasy, Drama
Patrice Leconte
37 The Hate1995
Crime, Drama
Mathieu Kassovitz
38 The Last Metro1980
Romance, History (WW2) Drama
François Truffaut
39 The Piano Teacher2001
Drama, Music
Michael Haneke
40 The Reader1988
Mildly Erotic Comedy Fantasy
Michel Deville
41 The Return of Martin Guerre1982
History (16thC) Drama, Biography, Crime, Mystery,
Daniel Vigne
42 The Visitors1993
Fantasy, Comedy
Jean-Marie Poiré
43 Three Colors: Blue1993
Drama, Music, Mystery, Romance
Krzysztof Kieslowski
44 Three Colors: Red1994
Drama, Mystery, Romance
Krzysztof Kieslowski
45 Three Colors: White1994
Comedy, Drama, Mystery, Romance
Krzysztof Kieslowski

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