Monday, 16 November 2015

La Belle et la Bête (1946) Film review

Fig. 1 La Belle et la Bête (1946)
official movie poster

La Belle et la Bête (1946) directed by Jean Cocteau, is a classic live-action rendition of the Beauty and the Beast fairytale. 'Cocteau re-creates the classic story of the beauty who gives herself to the beast to save her father, and whose growing love eventually transforms him into a handsome prince.' (Druker, 2012) The film discusses various issues such as love and greed, and how beauty can extend beyond appearances. Cocteau's La Belle et la Bête inspired Disney's 1991 Beauty and the Beast animation and in 2013,  Ethery Pagava created a ballet influenced by Cocteau's film.

The film was made 'in the immediate aftermath of World War II, and offered French cinema audiences what they most craved: pure escapism, blessed relief from the painful memories of the occupation and the penury of the post-war austerity.' (Travers, 2000) The film was directed by the famous French poet and playwrights, Jean Cocteau and many critics have described the film as 'a fanciful poem in movement' (Crowther, 2003) The director, Jean Cocteau was described by people as 'The Poetic Prince of French Cinema.' (Spradley, 2015) This was because he was skilled in many different art forms, including painting, poetry, drawing, filmmaking and acting. In 1946, he directed his first narrative film La Belle et la Bête which was based on the famous children's story Beauty and the Beast by Madame Leprince de Beaumont. This film became a huge hit amongst French cinema audiences and was among Cocteau's most famous films. 'With this film, Cocteau reached a new level of artistic fusion,  combining mythical narrative, visual poetry, cinematic trickery and even his own child-like writing in the credit sequence.' (Spradley, 2015)

'Despite the many challenges that confronted them, Cocteau and his dedicated team succeeded in crafting one of the great cinematic jewels of the 20th century.' (Travers, 2000) Cocteau's film crew experienced many difficulties while filming La Belle et la Bête, electricity was unreliable and film was scarce therefore Cocteau's production crew often worked by candlelight. Cocteau's poor health was also a major obstacle during the production of the film. 'The director had a serious skin condition which made him allergic to the strong studio lights, and he narrowly survived a life-threatening attack of blood poisoning.' (Travers, 2000) Regardless of the difficulties faced by the director and his film crew, they succeeded in creating a film with marvellous visual and technical brilliance. Critic, Brealy states: 'it is a brilliant fairy-tale fantasy, well ahead of its time.' (Brealy, 2012)

Today, 'La Belle et la Bête is still one of the best French films ever made.' (Langdon, 2003)


Text sources:

Druker, D. (2015) Beauty and The Beast. At: (Accessed on 16.11.15)

Langdon, M. (2003)  Beauty and the Beast. At: (Accessed on 16.11.15)

Spradley, P. (2015) Jean Cocteau: The Poetic Prince of French Cinema. At: (Accessed on 16.11.15)

Travers, J. (2000) La belle et la bete (1946) - Jean Cocteau  - film review. At: (Accessed on 16.11.15)

Illustration list

Fig. 1 (1946) [Poster] La Belle et la Bête official movie poster. At: (Accessed on 16.11.15)

1 comment:

  1. Concise and thoughtful, Sky :)
    It might have been useful to also talk briefly about Christian Bérard's influence in the production design, but all-in-all, a interesting read!