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la belle et la bete

la belle et la bete

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Published by lucyyelding

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Published by: lucyyelding on Nov 16, 2012
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La Belle et la Bête 1946
Le Belle et la Bete
is a post-WW2 Fantasy film adaptation of the fairy tale written in1975, sharing the same name, by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont. The 1946adaptation was directed by René Clémen and Jean Cocteau, who also wrote the screenplay. J. Cocteau was a poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, playwright, artist and a filmmaker, bringing all of his talents together to try and achieve “total art.” ChristianBérard was on the production team, who was a fashion illustrator, which reallyimpacted the whole look of the film. La Belle et la Bete is considered to be the bestfilm of all time in the fantasy-romance genre.
Fig 1. Movie Poster 
With various differences to the original fairy tale, Cocteau's story follows a beautifulyoung daughter, Belle, who turns her self in, in replacement of her father, to thelonely, magical Beast, who lives in a misty woods, in an enchanted castle, to serve forthe crime the father committed, stealing a rose from his garden. There Belle is to livewith the beast, where she is to meet him every day at 7pm, and is confronted with aquestion each day from the beast, proposing her to become his wife. Belle, at firstrevolted by the beast, begins to learn of his lonely and caring nature, and slowlyenjoying his company.La Belle et la Bete was such a remarkable remake of the famous fairy tale, because of the affects and environment created throughout the film. The sets created are sobeautiful and very extravagant, yet truly magical and breathtaking, because of theamazing affects and lighting created, that can stand the test of time, as even amodern audience can marvel at the sets produced.
“I shall run the risk of hyperbole, and claim that the beast mask is the single greatest make-up effect of all time - if not necessarily the most strictly realistic, surely themost magnificent in effect, frightening us and seducing us in one breath, begging tobe touched as much as anything in any film ever has been.” 
(Brayton, 2008)
Fig 2. Wondering
 This can be said for the whole of the sets produced, as where everything is made byhand, it adds a whole new dimension, it adds more character than most CGI moviescan attempt to create today. There is a uniqueness that CGI can not emulate, tohaving real objects, real sets, real lighting. It becomes a lot more magical, more fleshy,and somehow, a lot less beautifully unrealistic, even though everything we are seeingis in fact real. The artist's imprint in the sets add such a unique property to the film'sappearance. C. Berad's fashion illustration influences allowed the producers to makealmost every scene a stunning image throughout the whole film. Even for simple shotswhen Belle is running through the depths of the castle, the emphasis on her clothes,the movement of gowns, made is so majestic, the attention to small details like howthe curtains sway create an affect like the swooping and smooth lines of fashionillustrations. Fashion illustration has a unique character different from otherillustration, because of the simplicity, the minimal-ness, yet they managed to bringthat quality into moving image and cinema.It can be said that J.Cocteua succeeded in producing “total art”, as in this productionit features almost every single type of art into one, which is the reason why
La Belle et la Bete
made such an impact, because it's a poem as much as it is a film, it's apainting as much as it is a film, and so on. Though “total art” can be said to just be anideology, striving to reach total art defiantly had made many many favours in theoutcome of the film.Where J.Cocteau did create a visual poem, the set it self tells the poem all through outthe movie.
“Cocteau wanted to make a poem, wanted to appeal through images rather thanwords, and although the story takes the form of the familiar fable, its surface seems tobe masking deeper and more disturbing currents.......Cocteau uses haunting imagesand bold Freudian symbols to suggest that emotions are at a boil in the subconsciousof his characters. Consider the extraordinary shot where Belle waits at the dining tablein the castle for the Beast's first entrance. “
Fig 3. Awaiting the Beast 
 The whole film features metaphors, symbols and icons, telling half the story in the sets alone.Although the fairy tale is very much child friendly, Cocteua's adaptation features many topicswhich may be seen as not suitable for children. Cocteua can be seen to explore topics likesexuality throughout the story, like how in the scene shown above, the confrontation betweenthe two characters through what is said shows Belle's discomfort of the Beast's company, butthe stage shows the sexual tension between the two. All the way through this confrontation,Belle is grasping and fiddling with the knife in her hands, a very Freudian way to suggest thestress on the relationship between the two, and the whole castle with human faces watchingBelle constantly, very uncanny, but also begins to explain the perversion of Belle's company bythe beast.
The spilled pearls that magically self-assemble in La Bête's palm during one of hisfailed erotic encounters with La Belle are just one example of the film's abundant traces of the spunk of Cocteau's consciously queer artifice. Such traces may be less"obvious" here than in Cocteau's more explicitly homoerotic works. And yet it's precisely the questions and challenges of visibility—of what's obvious and to whomand why—that Beauty and the Beast so masterfully explores.” 
(M. Cavitch:2011)Cavitch here explain how the story can also be seen as quite personal to J. Cocteau,expressing some of the stresses he may have had being a homosexual in a veryhomophobic time, and we can begin to see why
La Belle et la Bete
is so successful, asit makes us begin to question our selves, identities and what we see.
“For all its very genuine and supremely successful appeal to the childlike, it's also amature, sophisticated meditation on gay aestheticism, and thus a crucial work inCocteau's lifelong project—not just to acknowledge but also actively to participate inthe artifice of the real.” 
La Belle et la Bete
's success can be credited to the unique approach to the productionof the sets, with influences outside of cinema alone, and the poetic addition to thefairy tale, with there being a meaning to everything we see, making us question thewhole topic about identities. It was a beautiful adaptation of a timeless fairytale, with acharacter that CGI works will never be able to imitate.Bibliography:Max Cavitch (2011) La Belle et la Bete in:
[online] at:
(accessedonline 11/11/2012)

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