Sunday, December 20, 2009

Day 278: La Belle et la Bête (1946) - Rank 4.5/5


This ain't a Disney-fied take on Le Prince de Beaumont's classic, cautionary fairy tale. Jean Cocteau presents a film that may have lapses of logic, but is never devoid of phantasmagoric beauty. To give a plot synopsis would be moot, for most individuals are familiar with the tale of a woman falling in love with her inhuman captor (Stockholm syndrome at its mythical best). What is worth mentioning is that this is one of the most beautiful films in the history of cinema. Cocteau's knack for breathtaking visuals in "Orphee" was what lured me towards the film.

Jean Marais, the star of "Orphee" (and Cocteau's lover for a time), plays both the role of the garrulous Gaston, the egotistic hunter seeking Belle's affection, as well as the Beast. The makeup for the Beast is far more elaborate than the work Jack Pierce was doing with Lon Chaney Jr. across the ocean. The set design and costuming dazzle the eye as well, enhancing Cocteau's surreal take on the tale. There are elements to the story that seem to be lost in translation, making a few minor plot points a little perplexing, but I would liken the overall viewing experience to watching a good, foreign opera - while everything that's transpiring may not make complete sense, the production is so gorgeous you cannot turn away.

Watch the Trailer

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