Sunday, 4 December 2016

"La Belle et la Bête" review

The story of the Beauty and the Beast is very known by every adult and child all around the world. It is very romantic, sweet, charming and unforgettable story about the love between a not beautiful, but very kind-hearted Beast and gorgeous Beauty, who have compassion for all living things. This story is a fairytale, the most known version of it was written by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont.
Jean Cocteau's "La Belle et la Bête" was the first movie based on Beaumont's version of this fairytale with the same name. This film was made in 1946, and it is surprising to see such a good looking movie made in postwar times: acting, camerawork and especially costumes and set design- all these were made with high quality.
However "La Belle et la Bête" film slightly doesn't match with the fairytale, as Beauty named Belle in the movie has a friend named Avenant, who is deeply in love with her. And the ending is very unusual and even strange, but at the same time, it is insightful. Because of the greed of Belle's smitten friend, who in the end wants to get treasures of the dying Beast, an arrow hits him and turns Avenant into an exact copy of the Beast. After that moment the Beast immediately morphs into a beautiful prince, that, surprisingly, looks exactly like Avenant. And as Mark Pittillo said that Belle's "disappointment is unmistakable."(see fig.1) Beauty's expressions were quite still(motionless) during the whole movie, but still, you could see that she is shocked and not happy about that transformation and even when Prince asked her is she's disappointed that he looks just like Avenant Beauty is struggling with her answer. Probably she was missing the "old" Beast.
Fig. 1. Belle's disappointed face when she sees Beast's new look(2016)

In author's opinion, "La Belle et la Bête" film looks like a big fashion parade with fabulous set design, beautiful camera-work, and uncomplicated story in the background. Michael E. Miller(2002) thinks that Cocteau's shiny and bright surface completely suppresses content "full of baroque interiors, elegant costumes, and overwrought jewellery (even tears turn to diamonds), the film is all surface." However, this kind of atmosphere of beautiful clothes and castles very suits the story, because the story itself is a fairytale, it must look and feel like a fairytale. Jean Cocteau succeeded in this matter. Thanks to his outstanding artistic taste, Beaumont's fairytale became filled with colour, magic and beauty. "It is one of the most magical of all films."(Ebert, 1999) Slow and reverse shooting, play of light and shadow, "live" decorations, detailed makeup of the Beast - through simple solutions French director has achieved stunning visual effect.The author would like to point out beautiful and very surrealistic scene of hallways with hands holding candelabras, which even brings some anxiety and fear.(see fig.2)
Fig. 2. Belle walking among surrealistic hallways of Beast's castle(2014)

But despite a magical visual style of the movie, it very well conveys the inner fight(struggle) of Beast, fight between his human and animal part. The moment when he comes to Belle in a bloody shirt with a steaming head and hands perfectly shows the audience his constant and painful internal struggle and that is his grief.(see fig.3)
Fig. 3. Beast's animal side coming out(2016)

1. Pitillo, M. Review by Mark Pitillo, accessed on 3 December 2016.
2. Miller M. E. (2002) Simple Twist of Fate, accessed on 3 December 2016.
3. Ebert, R. (1999) Beauty and the Beast, accessed on 3 December 2016.


1. Figure 1.(2016)[Film Still], accessed on 3 December 2016.
2. Figure 2.Bob Cotton(2014)[Film Still], accessed on 3 December 2016.
3. Figure 3.(2016)[Film Still], accessed on 3 December 2016.


  1. Hi Anastasija,

    Some interesting observations here :)

    Just a couple of things... it might have been useful to put a date to the original Beaumont fairy story, just so that the reader can appreciate how far back the original tale goes.
    You talk about the film looking like a 'big fashion parade'; this would have been a good opportunity to introduce Christian Berard as the concept artist, and explain how his chalk drawings translated into the final look of the film.

    You talk about 'the author'... I assume that you are talking about yourself, and this is to avoid writing in the first person? Have a look at the guide that Phil published, for some ideas on how to approach writing in the 3rd person ...see here -