Wednesday, 12 October 2011

'La Belle et la Bête' Film Review

La belle et la Bete Poster Art

Directed by Jean Cocteau in 1946, 'La Belle et la Bête' tells the story of Belle, a merchants daughter whom falls in love with the grotesque and insightly Bête. Upon picking a rose from Bête's garden an old merchant is confronted by the creature and told he must die unless one of his daughters takes his place. His youngest and most loving daughter Belle courageously offers to take her fathers place. The Beast instantly falls in love with Beauty and reveals beyond his frightening exterior lies a heart that is yearning to be loved.

"The Beast's dwelling is one of the strangest ever put on film--Xanadu crossed with Dali." (Ebert,1999).  The haunting architecture of the castle is shrouded in mystery which intensifies the curiousity into The Beasts background. "The castle is at once an enchanted palace and a stifling prison." (Miller, 2002). With the candelbras in the entrance hall being held by human arms and the living statues following visitors around the room The Castle has a human element in the same way Bête does, it is apparent this dwelling shared The Beasts metamorphosis into this ugly, unapprochable entity.

There are many references in the film to The Beast's primal instincts such as Belle waiting at the dining table for Bête to present himself. He appears behind her and approaches silently like a Lion lying in wait to kill a Gazelle. It could also be argued this also relates to the sexual desires of the beast, something which is more repressed in humans than animals.

"Appearances are visceral as well as visual." (Cavitch, 2011) With his lack of emotion and terrifying presence early in the film, the audience is forced to make an instant judgement of Bête in the same way the villagers do, seeing him as this monstrous abomination. As the film progresses however The Beast is shown in his true light and he is no longer perceived as this villainous character but a soft, gentle creature with a human heart.  The morality of this film appears to be based on the premise that you should never judge a book by its cover. This notion could easily be misconstrued as although it appears this is the case with Bête it is also made apparent that Belle is favoured by Avenant her brothers friend and the other villagers not just for her character but essentially her good looks.

List of Illustrations

Fig 1. The Beast and the Beauty.
Fig 2. Bête in love with Belle
Fig 3. The Beast approaching a cautious Belle

Images from   


Roger Ebert of 'The Chicago Sun Times' (Published December 26, 1999) (Accessed on October 12 2011)

Michael Miller of 'The Village Voice' (Published August 13, 2002)  (Accessed on October 12 2011)
Max Cavitch of 'Slant Magazine' (Published July 16, 2011)  (Accessed on October 12 2011)

No comments:

Post a Comment