Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Film Review: La Belle et la Bête

La Belle et la Bête (1946) 93min


(Figure 1: La Belle et la Bête Poster)

La Belle et la Bête; a french black and white film directed by Jean Cocteau in 1946 is one of the most recognized romantic fantasies of the 20th century. As said by Dennis Schwartz in his review, ''It sets the benchmark in elegance for such fantasy films.'' (Schwartz, D) is replicated by the American fairy tale novel of the story by Walt Disney; 'Beauty & the Beast' (1991).


(Figure 2 & 3: Adelaide and Felicie & Drizella and Anastasia)

Before Belle's farther leaves to seek huge financial investments, he asks Belle and her two step sisters; Adelaide and Felicie what they would like as a gift for when he returns from his trip. Belle requests a Rose, yet patronizingly Adelaide and Felicie cackle while waving their farther goodbye. Their dominance is very clear to the audience by their wicked attitude, extravagant clothing and how they are standing on set. In the film, Adelaide and Felicie are waving up on steps, but Belle is on the ground; another metaphor enforcing thoughts of higher authority and importance. These two antagonists have become well known among the fairy tale and 'happily ever after' novels for children. Such evil step-sisters are parallel to Walt Disney's 'Cinderella' (1950) known as Drizella and Anastasia.


(Figure 3 & 4: Belle walking through the Castle Corridor - The Beast carrying Belle to her room)

Throughout the film, the castle is created to show great sense of depth and contrast. When Belle is quietly walking through the castle corridor, the curtains a strikingly white compared to the rest of the room; flowing over her as she walks by as though clinging to her. As Ken Hanke describes; ''There are deep undercurrents to the film, suggesting a dark, horrible and wonderful secret...'' (Hanke, K) can compare such scene to when the Beast is carrying the unconscious Belle to her room, within the background a jail looking door within the archway is seen of center from the camera. At first it is if the Beast is forcefully being kept within the castle walls, yet countering such thoughts could lead to the conclusion that the Beast has such doors in place to keep anything and everyone else out. Again, a metaphorical recluse within his own 'luxurious jail' inspired home.


(Figure 5 & 6: La Belle et la Bête Magic Mirror - Snow White Magic Mirror)

One of the many peculiar objects the Beast possesses is the 'Magic Mirror'. It allows the person looking into the mirror to 'spy' on whoever they ask for. To some 21st century audiences this type of object would be described as suspicious and even slightly deceptive. As MaryAnn Johanson says in her own review; 'Lushly, deliciously frightful, embellishing the basic fairy tale with a surreal, delicate eroticism.'' (Johanson, M) is in hindsight the basics of what this film is about. Belle is falling in love with a vicious humanoid animal and is being held captive beyond her will.

In conclusion, La Belle et la Bête is the mother of all sinister uprisings about the desperation of the love of another. Its the 20th century edition to any hostage situation with a semi-disturbing romantic twist encouraged by its great use of cinematography.


Bibliography:

Hanke, K. (2002) La Belle et la Bête Film Review. URL: http://mtnx.pmhclients.com/movies/review/beauty_and_the_beast (Accessed on 29.10.2013)

Schwartz, D.  (2006) La Belle et la Bête Film Review. URL: http://homepages.sover.net/~ozus/beautyandthebeast.htm (Accessed on 29.10.2013)

Johanson, M. (2002) La Belle et la Bête Film Review. URL: http://www.flickfilosopher.com/2002/08/beauty-and-the-beast-la-belle-et-la-bete-review.html (Accessed on 29.10.2013)


Illustration List:

Fig. 1. La Belle et la Bête Poster Art (1946) From: La Belle et la Bête Directed by: Jean Cocteau. [Poster] France. Lopert Pictures. At: http://www.johncoulthart.com/feuilleton/2013/10/07/la-belle-et-la-bete-posters/ (Accessed on 29.10.2013)

Fig. 2. Belle's Step-Sisters Sisters - Adelaide & Felicie (1946) From: La Belle et la Bête Directed by: Jean Cocteau. [Film Still] France. Lopert Pictures. At: http://frocktalk.com/?p=1520 (Accessed on 29.10.2013)

Fig. 3. Cinderella's Step- Sisters - Drizella and Anastasia (1950) From: Cinderella Directed by: Clyde Geronimi. [Film Still] United States. Walt Disney Productions. At: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_yGHvCyxYCoA/Sb8kyrdsAAI/AAAAAAAAAY8/lW47bZj-R0M/s1600/Cinderella%2Bsisters (Accessed on 29.10.2013)

Fig. 4. Belle walking through the Castle Corridor (1946) From: La Belle et la Bête Directed by: Jean Cocteau. [Film Still] France. Lopert Pictures. At: http://dudummesau.com/2011/09/11/klaus-kinski-call-me-beast/ (Accessed on 29.10.2013)

Fig. 5. The Beast carrying Belle to her room (1946) From: La Belle et la Bête Directed by: Jean Cocteau. [Film Still] France. Lopert Pictures. At: http://frocktalk.com/?p=1520 (Accessed on 29.10.2013)

Fig. 5. La Belle et la Bête Magic Mirror (1946) From: La Belle et la Bête Directed by: Jean Cocteau. [Film Still] France. Lopert Pictures. At: http://thepandorian.com/page/127/ (Accessed on 29.10.2013)

Fig. 7. Snow White Magic Mirror (1937) From: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Directed by: David Hand. [Film Still] United States. Walt Disney Productions. At: http://www.flickriver.com/photos/betterlivingthroughimagineering/sets/72157610858659778/ (Accessed on 29.10.2013)

1 comment:

  1. Hi Heidi,
    Well done getting your film review out of the way so sharply :)
    Just a couple of little points really... just check that when you have used a quote, the rest of the sentence still makes sense; you might need an extra word here and there. For example, the bit you have written here -

    'As said by Dennis Schwartz in his review, ''It sets the benchmark in elegance for such fantasy films.'' (Schwartz, D) is replicated by the American fairy tale novel of the story by Walt Disney'

    makes more sense if you put an 'and' before 'is replicated'. Also, after the quote, you need just the author's surname, followed by the date, so (Schwartz, 2006) for example.
    Other than that, you have made some interesting comparisons between this and subsequent films :)

    ReplyDelete