La Belle et la Bête

  • Film
  • Fantasy films
0 Love It

A gorgeous, pin-sharp remaster for poet-dramatist-artist-director Jean Cocteau’s giddy, sumptuous 1946 retelling of the Freudian fairytale about a helpless girl and a kindhearted monster. Slightly pompous preamble aside, this ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is pure joy, a self-conscious but never precious attempt to revisit childhood fantasies and half-remembered dreams. The Beast’s ornate, decaying castle – ringed with thorns and filled with grasping hands – is a place of terror, wonder and mourning, the perfect reflection of its tragic, noble occupant. The tug of love between the monster and the maiden is never overplayed, but neither does the film shackle this beast – he remains unpredictable and threatening throughout. ‘La Belle et la Bête’ has been accused of valueing style over substance, but place the film in historical context (alongside, say, ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ and ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, both released the same year) and its true intent is revealed: in the wake of unimaginable horror, this kind of fantasy is still achievable, and perhaps more important than ever. Tom Huddleston

Release details

Duration: 100 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Jean Cocteau
Screenwriter: Jean Cocteau
Cast: Jean Marais
Josette Day
Mila Parély
Nane Germon
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