In La Belle et la Bête, Cocteau’s extra diegetic opening remarks to the audience introduces the narrative as a fairy tale. This consequently leads the audience to expect a happy ending at the end of the film. The narrative begins when Belle asks her father to bring her back a rose. This leads to the Beast’s ultimatum to her father of death or the company of one of his daughters. Essentially, the moment that this conflict is resolved, the through line continues towards more heightened conflicts such as if Belle can truly love the Beast and if Avenant will ever attain Belle. Using parallel montage, Cocteau combines these two important conflicts at the film’s climax as the Beast seems to be dying and Avenant has just gone through the glass window and into Diana’s garden. What’s interesting about this scene is that it contains unrestricted range as most of the film has contained as well. Belle and the Beast are unaware that Avenant and Ludovic are at the castle while the two men are also unaware that she is tending to the beastly man they came to kill. Although they never meet, both plots are resolved when the Beast is transformed back into a human and Avenant is transformed into the same beast he tried to kill, ironically for love. Human again, Belle falls in love with the Beast and the audience receives the happy ending that they had waited for.
Two interesting observations that I made was the film’s use of the mirror and castle to add to the plot. The mirror had significance because it allowed the characters themselves to have unrestricted range into glimpses of the other character’s lives. For example, Belle was able to see her father and the Beast was able to find Belle through the mirror. My other observation was that much of the plot space in the film, especially in the castle, served a deeper role to the narrative. This is especially true in the castle because much of the live objects, such as the living statues, served as supporting characters to the story. A perfect example of this would be the statue of Diana shooting the arrow that transformed Avenant.
Ultimately, Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête was a narration filled with a deep meaning of inner beauty and the traditional happily ever after.