Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Beauty and the Beast (1946) Movie Review

Beauty and the Beast (1946)
La Belle et la Bête

Rent Beauty and the Beast on Amazon Video
Written by: Jean Cocteau (dialogue & screenplay & story), Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont
Directed by: Jean Cocteau, René Clément (uncredited)
Starring: Jean Marais, Josette Day, Mila Parély
Rated: --

My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!

A young woman is kept prisoner by a mysterious beast that wants to marry her.

This may be the best example of a fairy tale translated to a live action film. It's a beautiful black and white film that's well made despite the low budget and social unrest of the time.
Watch it.

This is an age old tale. The fairy tale was first published in 1740.
It's hard for me to watch this and not recall the 1991 Disney version that borrows heavily from this. That's the version of the tale I grew up with. Would the Disney version overshadow? No. This movie is impressive, not even accounting for its age.

The effects are rudimentary yet effective in crafting a magical experience. It didn't have the luxury of CGI which can often feel fake anyway. Every scene, every shot, and all of the sets are well crafted. This movie is a work of art. With today's over reliance on CGI, this movie proves that practical effects can sometimes be more effective. Cocteau's budget was limited as this was filmed during World War II.

Belle is sentenced to living in the Beast's castle after her father unknowingly plucks a rose from the Beast's garden.
While this addresses the usual themes of inner beauty and a girl working as a servant that finds a better life, it does have a twist on how the curse is broken, or in this case passed on.

Belle's brother's friend Avenant is a contrast to the Beast, though both are played by the same actor. While they both ask her for marriage, Avenant forces himself into her room and corners her. The Beast allows her to leave the castle, wanting her to stay of her own free will.
In the end, Ludovic attempts to steal from the Beast and becomes a beast himself while the Beast now has the appearance of Avenant.

This is an amazing film. It's been reviewed and analyze a countless number of times. If you want to see a cinematic landmark, this is it.

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