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: