Week 4 Blog Assignment

La Belle et la Bête is a fairy tale that follows a linear plot structure, with restricted narration.

Given that it is a fairy tale, expectations exist so that we expect the film to end happily and contain certain elements of fantasy. Thus, magic is used much as causal motivation in the film.

The plot and story begin in the same place: Belle’s house, where she is a maid to her two pompous sisters. After the exposition, where the majority of characters are introduced, Belle’s father meets the Beast and the causal chain (as well as the rising action) begins. The precise beginning point is when the Beast tells the father to either give himself up or to give up one of his daughters. This cause leads to the effect of Belle’s and the Beast’s relationship, the focus of the entire film.

Considering that this film was made during the German occupation of France, many elements of German Expressionism are certainly present—maybe even perfected, and moved up a notch to surrealism. The costumes and sets are exaggerated and dream-like, as well as the movements of the characters, displayed in the Beast’s animalistic movements (like viciously slurping water from a lake) and Belle’s movements of loving exasperation for her father.

Range of narration is restricted to the experiences of each character, and we know little of characters that are not in the scene we currently watch at a given moment. Thus, narration is certainly not omniscient. When the character’s use the Beast’s mirror, the mirror offers them a certain bit of omniscience, but we are restricted to that specific character’s experience with it. The depth of narration is objective, for the film contains no P. O. V. shots or voice-overs, nor any mental or perceptual subjectivity; we are not able to access the characters’ thoughts unless they let us in themselves through dialogue, or even a peek into the beast’s mirror. Nor do we see any dreams, daydreams, or thoughts and desires of the characters physically on screen.

On a side note, one scene in the movie that I found to be emotionally engaging was when the Beast smoked up as Belle stared at him. Smoke, a recurring motif in the film, oozes from the Beast because Belle’s stare of disgust burns him to his very core. Nothing can hurt the Beast more than rejection from Belle, for whom he has so much love. This scene engages an emotional reaction of sadness and empathy for the Beast, such a conflicted character. The film was very good and I am glad to have been able to watch it and help build my knowledge of classic films.


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