Every film from Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" essays.
Beauty and the Beast
Il était une fois
The merchant and his children, Adélaïde, Belle, Félicie, and Ludovic, are near ruin bankruptcy, but Adélaïde and Félicie nonetheless still spend lavishly on themselves keeping beautiful, whereas Belle slaves around the house. Crossing the forest one evening, their father becomes lost and takes refuge in a castle. Upon leaving, he steals a blossom off a rose bush. An angered beast demands one of his daughters for the theft.
Film #22 of Project 40
”Don't address me as sir, I'm called the Beast!”
Before starting his magical tale of doomed princes and charming girls Jean Cocteau takes a moment and asks us to put away our rational and mathematical minds aside for 90 minutes and join him in something which doesn't make sense, something ridiculously childish, something that can’t be analyzed and dissected by logic. From that opening title card it’s obvious that La Belle et la Bête is going to be a movie exploring the always spellbinding territory of magic and fantasy, and when it comes to fantasy you know that you shouldn't ask a question as you won’t get an answer, it’s all about joy, thrill, surprise…
There is only one word to describe Jean Cocteau’s spellbinding adaptation of Beauty and the Beast - Magical.
The film begins with a direct plea to the audience, a plea to simply believe as a child would: to believe in the fantastical and magical. Whilst it expresses Cocteau’s intent it is perhaps a redundant introduction when it is so easy to believe in this cursed and enchanted world. It is one of those rare films that has enthralled countless generations, and old and young alike, without talking down to either audience. Above all it is the ultimate fairy-tale film that utilises the illusionary qualities of the medium to their fullest.
Whilst the film could be interpreted as having real world…
Jean Cocteau's Beauty and The Beast is a magical and transcendent ode to the limits of fantasy, brought to life with exceptional performances, awe-inspiring production design, startling atmosphere, and luscious direction. In particular, the close ups are given a mesmerizing and transfixing sense of purity, adding to the theatrical and intimate feel of the entire film.
This is the first time I've seen this masterpiece, and I can't wait to fall under its spell again.
Why I watched this movie? The 135th Danny Peary Cult Movie that I have watched of the 200 listed in his 3 Volume book series. This one is listed in Volume 1.
What is this one about? The French version of the famous story of a Beauty, a Beast and love.
My thoughts on this one? I could not help but compare this movie to the 1990's Disney hand drawn animated movie. It looks like the Disney artists took many of the images found in this movie and put it in their movie. This French version seems to include many other classic stories. Belle has two evil sisters (Cinderella), has a magical glove that can transport her from one location…
Part of my:
Crossing Off the Unseen
So, my dear sir, you steal my roses. You steal my roses, the things I love most in all the world.
- La Bête
I've never been much of a fan of fairytales, although I know the basic plot-line of quite a few of them, as a child I wasn't shown the Disney versions and thus I'm somewhat ignorant to the majority of them - Beauty and the Beast included. Cocteau's blend of romanticist and surrealist imagery in this imagining of the story undoubtedly creates a beautiful and sometimes fevered portrait of love. The costumes and sets send us away to a land where magic really is possible, where we can watch in…
Jean Cocteau's adaption of La Belle et la Bête is a film of tender beauty so striking in its visual presentation that it for a good 90 minutes transports the audience into a world of magic and wonder. I've always been a huge fan of the story itself and have seen the Disney version many times, loving it each and every time, but Cocteau's version is truly something else. Although grounded mostly in realism and having few reminders (if you can look past the beast) of the fantastical nature of the story and setting, such as the infamous candles sequence, they are so impressive and wonderfully realised that you never forget you're watching a fairytale. When the candles light themselves…
One of the most magical films i've seen! Charming and romantic, perfectly directed and performaned, Beauty and the Beast is one of the greatest films ever made!
The production design, makeup and special effects make up for the clunky plot.
Aunque un tanto envejecida visualmente, el clásico cuento en manos de Cocteau adquiere cierto misticismo.
Cocteau creates a complete and beautiful fantasy world without computers or much money in post-war France. I also love that there is an underlying Freudian coming of age story without any psychiatry. Reviewed on flickersintime.com
Didn't do anything for me this time.
Had I outgrown it?
Amazing, clever, and charmingly practical visual effects abound in this heart felt adaptation of the oft-told story. The make-up on the Beast is simply incredible, and has a magical and sophisticated quality that you see from the likes of modern masters like Rob Bottin or Rick Baker...I bet they loved this movie too.
Jean Marais gives the Beast warmth, and the young scoundrel Avenant a contemptible swagger that underlines the contrast between a good heart and physical beauty...Marais ably performs both parts brilliantly. And while it would be a lot better if Belle was less naive and easily manipulated by her family, Josette Day gives the character enough warmth that makes you understand why she is loved by the good…
Criterion Spine #6
It's been quite some time since I've seen Beauty and the Beast and I should likely revisit it come time, yet I just don't feel that draw. Jean Cocteau's direction is quite impressive and I remember being taken aback by the excellent production design for the film. However so much of my admiration for this version of Beauty and the Beast directly correlates with me growing up with the Disney version. Had I seen this film first, I doubt I would have liked it as much as I did, but who knows. Beauty and the Beast is a wonderful production, but I'm not quite sure how much it has to do with this version and how much it's due to my appreciation for the story already.
Fast-paced and mysterious, this is a magical film for all ages. A child will love it for its sense of wonder, and an adult will find deeper layers of meaning in this beautifully written and filmed masterpiece. It’s funny and moving, both offbeat and traditional, and oddly accessible for just about anyone who will give it a spin. Highly recommended.
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