La belle et la bête (1946) Jean Cocteau

Saturday, May 22, 2010

French films to be watched in the next few days, to prepare myself for the French aural test next week.

First of the series, which includes three, is the French Beauty and the Beast, a short poetic film directed by Jean Cocteau. Belle is one of four children, with a brother and two snobby sisters. Her father has recently suddenly found himself in financial turmoil, and along the way, got lost in the woods and doomed to die by the Beast unless he gives up one of his daughters. Belle sacrifices herself for her father, finding herself in the mysterious magical grounds of the Beast, and somehow learns to look past his ugliness and to love him.

The 96 min film in black and white shows lovely effects such as the white long curtains blowing in the wind as Belle explores the palace, and arms of the candle holders, and when Belle changes from her poor attire to luxurious costume as she is entering her rooms in the arms of the Beast. The shots do not flow smoothly together, but are more like theatrical scenes with darkness in between each location changes. I found the film quite enjoyable, as I have tried to put on the 'childish naivety' that Jean Cocteau asked of his audience throughout the story.

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