A beautiful young woman takes her father's place as the prisoner of a mysterious beast, who wishes to marry her.A beautiful young woman takes her father's place as the prisoner of a mysterious beast, who wishes to marry her.A beautiful young woman takes her father's place as the prisoner of a mysterious beast, who wishes to marry her.
Most people will know this classic story as the Disney animated film from the early 1990's. That one wasn't bad for Disney, but I think most will agree that this largely ignored version is a far superior telling of the tale. The Beauty and the Beast works because underneath it's fairytale setting; it's a tender love story. It's a story of how love can transcend superficial boundaries. The Beast is, obviously an ugly character on the outside, albeit one with a heart of gold on the inside, thus allowing Belle to fall in love with him and the audience to feel for the character in spite of his physical affliction. This story has become legend, in both cinema and literature and several stories have taken influence from it since - from soft-core bestiality porn flick, 'The Beast', to the classic 'King Kong'; The Beauty and the Beast is one of the most important stories ever written, and Jean Cocteau has more than done it justice with this film.
This is my first taste of Jean Cocteau. I've heard many a good thing about the man (including that he inspired the majestic 'Eyes Without a Face'), and judging by this film alone; they would appear to be true. The way that Cocteau creates the atmosphere in the movie is superb, and also very subtle. There's no real macabre imagery on display, and Cocteau relies on smoke and the lavish Gothic settings to do it for him. It's true that the beast itself looks a little rubbish; but it still looks a damn sight better than a lot of the CGI incarnations that we see all too much of today. If what I've heard is right; Cocteau is responsible for much of what cinema has come to rely on, but even if it isn't true; this film is a must see.
- Dec 20, 2004