Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Space Oddities | Film Review | La Belle Et La Bette

                                           Fig 1. La Belle Et La Bete Film Poster 

Jean Cocteau's "La Belle Et La Bete" (1946) is a fabulous spectacle that focuses upon the gloomier side of the fairytale story that involves a young woman called "Beauty" (Josette Day) falling in love with a man who has been transformed into a tremendous yet fierce beast (Jean Marais). Unlike the Disney remake which instead focused more on the love and the magic side of the story. 

The way Beauty falls into Beast's clutches is via her selfish father, this is because he was caught stealing a rose from the Beast's garden for which he had to pay for with his death or allow one of his daughters to be taken hostage by the Beast. Beauty was the daughter who allowed herself to be sacrificed. It's not until Beauty is with the Beast that we soon start to realize that the ferociousness of the Beast is only on the outside as in fact he is a kind and gentle being. 

Fig 2. The hallway filled with candles held by human hands 

Throughout the film it is suggested that we are in some sort of magical dreamland, this fact is backed up with "When bodies appear through walls or fly up into the air, it is almost as if Cocteau's camera has miraculously recorded a dream." (Peter Bradshaw 2014). Many props within Beast's household also suggest that everything is not of this world, for example the candles on the walls are held up by human hands coming out of  the wall, the gates and doors shut automatically and also there is people who are alive within the Beast's fireplace and there is never anything said about them, they could be controlled? This question is explained with "The statues are alive, and their eyes follow the progress of the characters (are they captives of the Beast, imprisoned by spells?)."  (Roger Ebert 1999). The house that Beast owns makes us feel uneasy with a terrific use of  contrasting blacks and whites, a great example would be when Beauty is walking down a hall and the curtains are glaring bright white and flailing in the wind. The final thing that gives us an impression of nonsensicality and that we are in a dream world is the flamboyant costumes which "are exquisite affairs, glittering and imaginative, lacking only the glow of colour," (Crowther, 1947) The costumes are noticeably more theatrical when we enter the Beast's household.

Fig 3. The scene where Beast asks Beauty to marry him

After Beauty lavishes in the Beast's company she returns home to visit her Father, for she misses him. Beast agrees to set her free but for only one week for if it was any longer he would surely die of grief. When Beauty finally returns home it is clear to her family that she has gone up in the world and shows that she has richer clothing over her body. This drives her sister's bitter with jealousy causing them to create a ruse to steal the golden key which is for the treasury, and the two princes set out to go kill the beast. After some unforseeable events one of the princes climb in through the skylight for the treasury and is shot by an arrow coming from Diana. Afterwards the Beast is transformed from almost dying to a perfectly healthy prince that resembles the same appearance of the prince that died in the treasury. Beauty accepts the new prince's hand in marriage and they both float off into the sky, backing up the fact that we were surely viewing a dream this whole time. 

Fig 4. The scene where both the new converted Beast and Beauty float to the sky

This adaptation of the renowned film, is certainly one that will go down more in history as the one that has more reality behind it's meaning. The meaning of this film clearly reiterates that greedy people never prevail and that the Beast all along was trapped under a spell because of his greed.


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1 comment:

  1. Hi Sam!

    Sorry, you seem to have slipped through the net.... never mind, I am following you now :)

    Ok, so this is a thoughtful review, with a sensible choice of quotes to back up your discussions. It might have been interesting to talk a little about the influence of Christian Bérard, and the translation from the chalk-drawn concept art into the final production design. Always keep in mind that the films that you see are usually related in some way to the project that you are currently doing, so it always good to try and look for the links.

    Have a look at the referencing guide here, for details of what you need to include in your bibliography, and how it needs to be set out -

    Looking forward to reading your next review!