A young artist draws a face at a canvas on his easel. Suddenly the mouth on the drawing comes into life and starts talking. The artist tries to wipe it away with his hand, but when he looks... See full summary »
Elizabeth Lee Miller,
During the First World War, two French soldiers are captured and imprisoned in a German P.O.W. camp. Several escape attempts follow until they are sent to a seemingly impenetrable fortress which seems impossible to escape from.
Adélaïde, Belle, Félicie and Ludovic are young adult siblings who once lived in grandeur until their father's merchant ships were lost at sea. The family is now near ruin, but Adélaïde and Félicie nonetheless still squander away the family money on themselves and keeping beautiful, whereas Belle slaves around the house, doting on her father. Ludovic detests his two spoiled sisters, but is protective of Belle, especially with his friend Avenant, a handsome scoundrel who wants to marry Belle. Crossing the forest one dark and stormy evening, the father gets lost and takes refuge in a fantastical castle. Upon leaving, he steals a blossom off a rose bush, which Belle requested. The castle's resident, an angry beast, sentences him to one of two options for the theft of the rose: his own death, or that of one of his daughters. As she feels she is the cause of her father's predicament (despite her sisters asking for far more lavish gifts), Belle sacrifices herself to the beast. Upon arriving ... Written by
"On my face there's a plenty of cracks, wounds and itches and my hands are bleeding" Jean Cocteau wrote when he was hospitalized because of a bad skin disease "but the face and the hands of Jean Marais are covered with a so painful crust that removing it is similar to suffer my treatments". In fact all the visible parts of the body of Marais were covered every morning with animal hair. See more »
When Belle tells the Beast that she'd rather walk with him (at around 47 min), the head of a crew member is visible on the right bottom corner. See more »
Belle, you mustn't look into my eyes. You needn't fear. You will never see me, except each evening at 7:00, when you will dine, and I will come to the great hall. And never look into my eyes.
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The title and some of the opening credits are written with chalk on a blackboard, and then erased. See more »
This film immediately captured my attention with the written comments at the beginning of the film. Director Jean Cocteau begins this story by explaining why he wanted to make this film. He talks about the passion behind the picture and all the social unrest at the time. He ends this written dialogue with a comment that will forever remain in my mind. He says, "...and now, we begin our story with a phrase that is like a time machine for children: Once Upon a Time..." This just sent chills down my spine. Why? Because, although he is addressing children, I feel that it is really a phrase meant for all of us. It is used to bring the child out in all of us, to show us that we do not need to be 4 or 5 to fully understand the themes of this film ... we are meant to just sit back and let the film take us to another mythological time.
The amazing set design also impressed me about this film. Again, without the modern conveniences of today's cinema, Cocteau had to improvise. This was hard for him to do. Not only were there huge budgetary issues (since it was the end of WWII and France was about to be demolished), but also he was racing against an impending war. Fear was deep in the hearts of the French after WWII, and what a better way to rally your people then with a story about love found in the darkest of places.
This film also made me very sad. I am sometimes disgusted with the way that Disney ... for lack of a better word ... Disney-fies their fairy tales. I think after watching this masterpiece I will have trouble ever being able to go back to the computer generated "Song as Old as Time" version that Disney plastered their trademark to. Never have I been so impressed with black and white cinematography as I have been with this film. The actress that plays Belle, Josette Day, steals the camera every time it is on her. She looks so radiant with the black and white that to see a colorized version of this film would completely do it injustice. The power and emotion that comes between Belle and the Beast feels so true. Cocteau has somehow grabbed the true feeling of two people that are complete opposites that seem to find true love in the coldest of places. I would be one of those reviewers that believes that if this film were released today, it would still pull the audiences in as it did the first time. Only proving that it was made well before it's time, it shows so many of the characteristics of the modern day movie. Even the special effects seem perfect for this film. Even with budget being sub-par, we are able to get a true feeling that this Beast is one of the magical kind.
Oh, this film was superb. I would have to say that it is the best adaptation of a fairy tale that I have seen today. Definitely my best 40s film (made in 1946), and possibly the best telling of Beauty and the Beast EVER!!
Grade: ***** out of *****
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