Beauty and The Beast (La Belle et la bête) Reviews

  • Feb 12, 2021

    Yeah it's a pretty decent retelling of the tale. Well made for the time and the essence of the story is captured. Plays out like a child's fairytale.

    Yeah it's a pretty decent retelling of the tale. Well made for the time and the essence of the story is captured. Plays out like a child's fairytale.

  • Jan 30, 2021

    I was not expecting much from this iteration of Beauty and the Beast going in. Watching more world cinema, particularly more dated films, has left me a bit divided about earlier iterations; sometimes, plenty of them can be pure and profound, while others can very easily be dragged down by wearing their age a bit too proudly, whether in production value, theme, or social cues. However, Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast has aged quite well. The practical effects ae surprisingly good, and work in concert around a vision of the fairytale source material that is both whimsical and slightly dark, an aspect that gets completely lost in newer adaptations. Marais is the clear star of the film even underneath heavy prosthetics, working in perfect harmony with Cocteau's magical atmosphere. Though the narrative itself is classic, the subplots are a bit inconsistent, often eating up runtime with little payoff or relevance, particularly given that Belle's sisters are given little moral comeuppance. I do also think the ending is somewhat funny, with Avenant assuming the form of the Beast after beaking into the Pavilion; it makes me wonder if the spell wasn't broken by a 'loving gaze', but rather by someone else assuming the curse, at which point the Prince just hurriedly claims, "it was ... love, of course!" A startlingly well-conceived and finely made piece of high fantasy whose style clearly differentiates it from anything produced in decades within the genre. (4.5/5)

    I was not expecting much from this iteration of Beauty and the Beast going in. Watching more world cinema, particularly more dated films, has left me a bit divided about earlier iterations; sometimes, plenty of them can be pure and profound, while others can very easily be dragged down by wearing their age a bit too proudly, whether in production value, theme, or social cues. However, Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast has aged quite well. The practical effects ae surprisingly good, and work in concert around a vision of the fairytale source material that is both whimsical and slightly dark, an aspect that gets completely lost in newer adaptations. Marais is the clear star of the film even underneath heavy prosthetics, working in perfect harmony with Cocteau's magical atmosphere. Though the narrative itself is classic, the subplots are a bit inconsistent, often eating up runtime with little payoff or relevance, particularly given that Belle's sisters are given little moral comeuppance. I do also think the ending is somewhat funny, with Avenant assuming the form of the Beast after beaking into the Pavilion; it makes me wonder if the spell wasn't broken by a 'loving gaze', but rather by someone else assuming the curse, at which point the Prince just hurriedly claims, "it was ... love, of course!" A startlingly well-conceived and finely made piece of high fantasy whose style clearly differentiates it from anything produced in decades within the genre. (4.5/5)

  • Jan 17, 2021

    Cocteau immediately put me in the right frame of mind with his charmingly innocent request at the outset of this classic tale, which was to essentially transport yourself back to childhood and allow the chance for magic to occur. I was really only ever familiar with the Mouse's version of this story so was interested to see how the living components of the Beast's castle were portrayed in 1946 as I assumed talking clocks, teapots, and candlesticks hadn't been invented yet. The set design nailed it, allowing the ornately decorated castle to feel alive in some pretty creative ways. I was surprised how well this version still held up considering it's age, and can already see where this is leading now....likely with a trip over to Disney+ for a comparison watch in the near future.

    Cocteau immediately put me in the right frame of mind with his charmingly innocent request at the outset of this classic tale, which was to essentially transport yourself back to childhood and allow the chance for magic to occur. I was really only ever familiar with the Mouse's version of this story so was interested to see how the living components of the Beast's castle were portrayed in 1946 as I assumed talking clocks, teapots, and candlesticks hadn't been invented yet. The set design nailed it, allowing the ornately decorated castle to feel alive in some pretty creative ways. I was surprised how well this version still held up considering it's age, and can already see where this is leading now....likely with a trip over to Disney+ for a comparison watch in the near future.

  • Jan 01, 2021

    If you can ignore the overly theatrical acting and the mind-numbing score, which includes an incredibly shrill choir, Jean Cocteau's adaptation remains pretty true to the original story. The sets are beautiful, the effects are magical (despite being a bit dated), and the dream-like quality of the film makes for entertaining viewing for anyone interested in fairy tales and true love.

    If you can ignore the overly theatrical acting and the mind-numbing score, which includes an incredibly shrill choir, Jean Cocteau's adaptation remains pretty true to the original story. The sets are beautiful, the effects are magical (despite being a bit dated), and the dream-like quality of the film makes for entertaining viewing for anyone interested in fairy tales and true love.

  • Apr 07, 2020

    1001 movies to see before you die. Saw on TCM. Fantastic and creative. Not much more than the visuals, but special nonetheless.

    1001 movies to see before you die. Saw on TCM. Fantastic and creative. Not much more than the visuals, but special nonetheless.

  • May 06, 2019

    Honestly, I thought this movie was pretty boring. Nothing can compete with the Disney version.

    Honestly, I thought this movie was pretty boring. Nothing can compete with the Disney version.

  • Jan 29, 2019

    A wildly gorgeous masterpiece that is a true classic. It's got good creepiness blending in with the beauty of it too.

    A wildly gorgeous masterpiece that is a true classic. It's got good creepiness blending in with the beauty of it too.

  • Nov 05, 2018

    Odd, surreal, inventive, funny, maddening, romantic and silly...BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is a viewing experience like no other. It's also difficult to describe and I imagine each person seeing it will have different strong reactions to it. But it SHOULD be seen by anyone with a love of film and of art. It tells the basically familiar story of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (if you're a fan of the Disney movie, you can get a lot of amusement just looking for moments in this film that clearly inspired the animated version), but the whole approach is skewed and almost cartoonish. It's as though the film is made with children in mind, yet as it goes along, it becomes more and more adult. The lovely Belle in this telling is almost like Cinderella. She cooks and cleans while her two sisters preen and order her about and are basically the step-sisters from CINDERELLA. She also has a brother who is just a step above the village idiot, and there is his best friend, who has a pretty serious crush on Belle. And then there is Belle's beloved father...he's in the import/export business, and his business is in ruins because all his ships have disappeared. Frankly, Belle's father doesn't have many redeeming qualities, and it's hard to understand Belle's unthinking, unwavering devotion to him. I know, I know...he's her father. But she acts as though he is a saint. He heads out on a business trip and on his return, stumbles across a mysterious estate in the middle of the forest. And he basically breaks in, helps himself to food and pokes around the place like he owns it. (Here is one of many examples where people in this film don't behave in believable ways. Such is often the case in fairy tales when you think about them, but in a film, it just comes across as rude, if not criminal. When dad takes a rose from a tree for his daughter...the Beast is so outraged, he makes an appearance. He loves his roses above all else, and while he was seemingly content to see dad ransack his place, stealing a rose was an intolerable insult. Dad only saves his own hide by promising to send his beloved daughter Belle to the Beast's estate in exchange. Again, dad doesn't seem too honorable. So Belle goes to live with the Beast, and the two slowly grow closer and closer, although Belle is still tormented by her longing to see her father, who has fallen ill. The conversations between the two title characters are often odd. Beast is clearly tormented, both by personal demons, but also be loneliness, which Belle has finally relieved somewhat. Does he love her, or does he love the relief she brings? She seems drawn to him too, yet often, she just wanders around the estate, looking frankly dazed and confused. It's a difficult relationship to make sense of. In fact, the motivations of most of the characters in the film are murky. And yet, it all comes together in a dreamlike way. The surface silliness and cartoonish behaviors somehow still gel into a compelling exploration of obsession and the way love can tear one between the urge to be selfish and the inspiration to be generous with the object of desire. Beast wants Belle all for himself, yet he wants her to be happy, which means letting her return to her father. Belle is torn between the lure of home, and her generosity of spirit when she sees how deeply Beast needs her. All of this can be seen as romantic and lovely...the manifestations of deep love. Yet there is a pretty deep sexual undercurrent that comes closer and closer to the surface as the film progresses. What started out as a clownish story turns into barely restrained passions. When Beast is clearly enthralled by Belle, he literally begins to smoke and he screams at her to close her bedroom door. The implication is that he is moments away from loosing control of himself and attacking her. A child watching this might think that she's in danger of being literally attached and eaten. An adult viewer knows that's not exactly what we're talking about here. And the looks Belle gives to the Beast show that she is more than passingly intrigued by the idea of being ravished. Their relationship is "wrong" (in a conventional sense) and yet they have a burning desire (literally, in the Beast's case). Also worth the price of admission is the spectacular estate of the Beast. While there are few special effects as we would think of them, the film is full of magic. Candlesticks are held literally by human hands. Statues are alive. The whole set is full of surprises, and the net effect is truly one of having created another world in the midst of our more conventional one. Really cool stuff! The ending of the film contains a remarkable, amusing twist and was just the final odd touch in an odd and strangely effective movie. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is rightfully a classic, and a very singular piece of cinema.

    Odd, surreal, inventive, funny, maddening, romantic and silly...BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is a viewing experience like no other. It's also difficult to describe and I imagine each person seeing it will have different strong reactions to it. But it SHOULD be seen by anyone with a love of film and of art. It tells the basically familiar story of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (if you're a fan of the Disney movie, you can get a lot of amusement just looking for moments in this film that clearly inspired the animated version), but the whole approach is skewed and almost cartoonish. It's as though the film is made with children in mind, yet as it goes along, it becomes more and more adult. The lovely Belle in this telling is almost like Cinderella. She cooks and cleans while her two sisters preen and order her about and are basically the step-sisters from CINDERELLA. She also has a brother who is just a step above the village idiot, and there is his best friend, who has a pretty serious crush on Belle. And then there is Belle's beloved father...he's in the import/export business, and his business is in ruins because all his ships have disappeared. Frankly, Belle's father doesn't have many redeeming qualities, and it's hard to understand Belle's unthinking, unwavering devotion to him. I know, I know...he's her father. But she acts as though he is a saint. He heads out on a business trip and on his return, stumbles across a mysterious estate in the middle of the forest. And he basically breaks in, helps himself to food and pokes around the place like he owns it. (Here is one of many examples where people in this film don't behave in believable ways. Such is often the case in fairy tales when you think about them, but in a film, it just comes across as rude, if not criminal. When dad takes a rose from a tree for his daughter...the Beast is so outraged, he makes an appearance. He loves his roses above all else, and while he was seemingly content to see dad ransack his place, stealing a rose was an intolerable insult. Dad only saves his own hide by promising to send his beloved daughter Belle to the Beast's estate in exchange. Again, dad doesn't seem too honorable. So Belle goes to live with the Beast, and the two slowly grow closer and closer, although Belle is still tormented by her longing to see her father, who has fallen ill. The conversations between the two title characters are often odd. Beast is clearly tormented, both by personal demons, but also be loneliness, which Belle has finally relieved somewhat. Does he love her, or does he love the relief she brings? She seems drawn to him too, yet often, she just wanders around the estate, looking frankly dazed and confused. It's a difficult relationship to make sense of. In fact, the motivations of most of the characters in the film are murky. And yet, it all comes together in a dreamlike way. The surface silliness and cartoonish behaviors somehow still gel into a compelling exploration of obsession and the way love can tear one between the urge to be selfish and the inspiration to be generous with the object of desire. Beast wants Belle all for himself, yet he wants her to be happy, which means letting her return to her father. Belle is torn between the lure of home, and her generosity of spirit when she sees how deeply Beast needs her. All of this can be seen as romantic and lovely...the manifestations of deep love. Yet there is a pretty deep sexual undercurrent that comes closer and closer to the surface as the film progresses. What started out as a clownish story turns into barely restrained passions. When Beast is clearly enthralled by Belle, he literally begins to smoke and he screams at her to close her bedroom door. The implication is that he is moments away from loosing control of himself and attacking her. A child watching this might think that she's in danger of being literally attached and eaten. An adult viewer knows that's not exactly what we're talking about here. And the looks Belle gives to the Beast show that she is more than passingly intrigued by the idea of being ravished. Their relationship is "wrong" (in a conventional sense) and yet they have a burning desire (literally, in the Beast's case). Also worth the price of admission is the spectacular estate of the Beast. While there are few special effects as we would think of them, the film is full of magic. Candlesticks are held literally by human hands. Statues are alive. The whole set is full of surprises, and the net effect is truly one of having created another world in the midst of our more conventional one. Really cool stuff! The ending of the film contains a remarkable, amusing twist and was just the final odd touch in an odd and strangely effective movie. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST is rightfully a classic, and a very singular piece of cinema.

  • Oct 01, 2018

    Some of the best effects I have ever seen and a brilliant creativity. The story and characters are peculiar and two-dimensional, even by fairy tale standards, but the spectacle of it is brilliant.

    Some of the best effects I have ever seen and a brilliant creativity. The story and characters are peculiar and two-dimensional, even by fairy tale standards, but the spectacle of it is brilliant.

  • Mar 09, 2018

    At the start of the film, Auteur jean Cocteau requests that we accept the events that will unfold with a childlike simplicity and wonder. This is not at all hard to do. The movie feels exactly like a fairy tale, set in some rather distant past ("once upon a time") where a lucky trader's daughter might hope to marry a prince. Except the heroine of the tale (Josette Day) is one of those daughters that is bullied and taken advantage of by her older sisters (not step-sisters this time) but is the most devoted and genuinely caring toward her old man. So, when he picks a rose for her from the gardens of a mysterious castle in the middle of the woods and is confronted by a hairy, possibly scary, man-beast (Jean Marais) who demands his life or a daughter's life in exchange, she sneaks out in the night to give herself up to the beast. And, of course, the beast, who is secretly sad and romantic, falls in love with her. However, despite his tenderness toward her, she is too afraid to return his affection, though perhaps she starts to feel the same way. Cocteau and cinematographer Henri Alekan and production design team Christian Bérard and Lucien Carré have created a magical realm full of surrealistic touches (candelabras held by human hands, statues with eyes that move) but none stranger and more satisfying than the look of the Beast himself with those sad eyes and moveable ears. Cocteau uses Méliès-styled camera tricks (flying up to the clouds at the end) wisely and well. But, overall, it is those feelings of love, longing, loyalty, empathy, and sadness that Cocteau captures indelibly that elevate the film to its masterpiece status. If we add another layer of analysis to suggest that the kingdom of the Beast is actually that of Hades/Death, then the links to Cocteau's subsequent Orpheus (1950), another masterwork, are much clearer and the film takes on an even more mysterious tone.

    At the start of the film, Auteur jean Cocteau requests that we accept the events that will unfold with a childlike simplicity and wonder. This is not at all hard to do. The movie feels exactly like a fairy tale, set in some rather distant past ("once upon a time") where a lucky trader's daughter might hope to marry a prince. Except the heroine of the tale (Josette Day) is one of those daughters that is bullied and taken advantage of by her older sisters (not step-sisters this time) but is the most devoted and genuinely caring toward her old man. So, when he picks a rose for her from the gardens of a mysterious castle in the middle of the woods and is confronted by a hairy, possibly scary, man-beast (Jean Marais) who demands his life or a daughter's life in exchange, she sneaks out in the night to give herself up to the beast. And, of course, the beast, who is secretly sad and romantic, falls in love with her. However, despite his tenderness toward her, she is too afraid to return his affection, though perhaps she starts to feel the same way. Cocteau and cinematographer Henri Alekan and production design team Christian Bérard and Lucien Carré have created a magical realm full of surrealistic touches (candelabras held by human hands, statues with eyes that move) but none stranger and more satisfying than the look of the Beast himself with those sad eyes and moveable ears. Cocteau uses Méliès-styled camera tricks (flying up to the clouds at the end) wisely and well. But, overall, it is those feelings of love, longing, loyalty, empathy, and sadness that Cocteau captures indelibly that elevate the film to its masterpiece status. If we add another layer of analysis to suggest that the kingdom of the Beast is actually that of Hades/Death, then the links to Cocteau's subsequent Orpheus (1950), another masterwork, are much clearer and the film takes on an even more mysterious tone.