Tuesday, 4 October 2011

La Belle et la Bete Review

Fig. 1 La Belle et la Bete poster
La Belle et la Bete, or more commonly known as Beauty and the Beast, is tale of a woman who takes her fathers place in hope to save him from the Beast's power. Belle (Josette Day) takes her fathers (Marcel Andre) stead in a hope to save him from the Beast's (Jean Maris) power. This is the classic love tale, in essence, with the intentional focus on love being beyond skin deep however, with all of the elegant costumes, overwrought jewellery and conversion of tears into diamonds, 'the film is all surface, and undermines its own don't-trust-a-pretty-face and anti-greed themes at every turn' (Miller, 2002).
Fig. 2 The Beauty and the Beast
Looking into the technical proportion of this movie, it's clear where the utmost attention was put. From the finely embrodied costumes, to the stunning jewellery which disintegrates upon leaving Belle's body to the finely detailed beast mask, 'amazing about it is that it covers his face without completely disguising his facial features and expressions. His eyes, in particular, are still able to emote beautifully.' (Lloyd, 2010), these details are what makes this a truly convincing world. The haunting faces and bodiless arms, reaching out, bring a dark presence to the castle.

When Belle is greeted by the Beast, there are some parameters that are set, but is told that she may freely wonder the castle. The Beast also brings a question to her, that has already been asked before by Avenant (portrayed as Jean Maris, who also plays the Beast). The question is simply 'Will you be my wife?". This is quite a contrast in character as the Beast will allow Belle to do whatever she may please, but by asking such a question along with the freedom he has granted her, it seems that he is forcing himself upon her. Belle is also a hypocritical character, living in poverty she is kind, doting, caring person, and then once in the presence of the Beast, she becomes cruel and un-respectful of the Beast's emotions. The later is understandable at first, but this mindset is consistent throughout this moment which leads to a contradictory ending.

Fig. 3 Belle looking into the magic mirror
The last third of the movie is it's own undoing. When the Beast transforms from his metamorphosis state into the handsome prince which in turn transforms the scoundrel Avenant into the Beast, is something quite bewildering. The same actor, Jean Maris, is used for two individual characters which begs the question, why didn't the Beast return to his former self? There is also the matter of the former Beast's personality. All of his characteristic traits are abandoned, as it seems Maris forgot which character he was portraying despite befalling a gruesome fate as one of them. And as Tim said, 'focusing our attention on how bland the romantic lead looks after an hour of that most expressive, detailed, altogether marvellous beast mask' (Tim, 2008).

Figure 1. Jean Cocteau (1946) La Belle et la Bete poster. At: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-VUIBdfGFDk4/TnZOtVFGiOI/AAAAAAAAEio/c5aDEjtR9eM/s1600/belb.jpg
Figure 2. Jean Cocteau (1946) The Beauty and the Beast. At: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_P7mYEXfJ1lc/TKzgRuiOkgI/AAAAAAAAAOA/-AKv3cCvrPM/s1600/La+Belle+et+La+Bete+picture.jpg
Figure 3. Jean Cocteau (1946) Belle looking into the magic mirror. At: http://www.rangerpulse.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/belle.jpg

Michael Miller (2002) Village Voice. At: http://www.villagevoice.com/2002-08-13/film/simple-twists-of-fate/1/
Tim (2008) Antagony & Ecstasy. At: http://antagonie.blogspot.com/2008/06/tspdt-190-la-belle-et-la-bte.html 
Christopher Lloyd (2010) The Film Yap. At: http://www.thefilmyap.com/2010/08/02/beauty-and-the-beast-1946/

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