Week 4 Blog Assignment

The Beauty and the Beast has a narration with several points of view. Instead of getting the story from one character, we see the story through several characters, including Belle, the Beast, Belle’s father, and Belle’s sisters. This affects our understanding of each of the characters and what their intentions and purpose will be throughout the movie. In the opening scene we witness the arrow being shot through the window and Belle’s sisters are dressed in fancy clothes and jewelry and being carried by their personal coachmen. From the beginning we established the characters of Belle’s sisters as spoiled and self-centered women.

Throughout the movie there are several chains of causes and events that are essential to the plot and evokes emotions and expectations from the audience. The first is when Belle’s father somehow finds his way into the Beast’s mysterious castle and the Beast tells him that he must bring back one of his daughters to take his place otherwise he will die. Right away we know that Belle will be the one that is exiled to the castle, because from our expectations at the beginning of the film we know that Belle’s father is too boastful and her sisters are much to selfish to ever consider themselves sacrifices. This scene alone sets off the whole chain of events in the film.

One thing that I noticed in the movie is that the story time is not well defined. How long has Belle been living at the castle? Days, weeks, or months? We have no way of knowing because it is never clearly shown. This leaves the audience to fill in the gaps and infer what they don’t already know. This creates a sense of suspense because we create a scenario of what we think is going to happen and then we are eager to find out what event will happen next.

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3 thoughts on “Week 4 Blog Assignment

  1. I agree with the point that the story’s time period and context are not very “well-defined”; although the film undeniably flows in a straightforwardly chronological manner with a corresponding, vivid narrative, certain minute yet important details concerning the state and rate of passage of time are left open-ended. This does indeed create suspense, as the blogger above stated, but at the same time, I find that it also emphasizes the already-developed sense of surrealism that radiates from the film within a number of scenes. Although we as audience members are left in-touch with the narrative threads of the film, conveyed through the various perspectives of the characters through which we are able to see, the lack of characterization of the nature of time creates a contrasting sense of mystery, a certain poetic emptiness that serves as a vessel to heighten the film’s dream-like qualities (as within dreams, time also tends to be nonlinear and abstract). Coupled with the other surrealistic elements of the film (mirrors, inanimate objects coming to life, fairytale qualities, etc.), the not only literal but psychological intangibility of time throughout the film realizes Cocteau’s intention to create an aberrant, almost transcendent work of art.

  2. This film really does play on your expectations. What you see in the movie just is not the same with you are expecting so much. We know that there is going to be a happy ending since the fairy tale gives us that expectation so we can not be as emotionally engaged when the Beast is lying on his death bed. The characters and what happens almost is so obvious yet we watch it anyways. Cocteau plays on this as we mentioned in class that he is obsessed with the concept of the eternal return. That there is a cycle for elements in the film that we all know and expect, like there is once again another Beast for all the events to occur again. As far as the time goes, the lack of it adds to the effect of the fairy tale with such a blurry concept because it seems less mysterious with a certain time.

  3. I think, as the first commenter believes, that the ambiguity of time and space in this story is synonymous with its surrealist nature. When we dream, we don’t know how long things take, space can be impossibly extended or compressed, and events can skip across time.

    This unclear time and space also adds to the idea that the story is universally applicable and, therefore, timeless. A viewer watching the film at the time of its debut will likely get the same out of it as one that watches it in the 21st century. The same cannot be said for other films we have watched this semester, like Modern Times. Depression-era workers will certainly get something out of that movie that is much different than that which is taken by someone from our generation. Thus, thanks to many elements like the blurring of time and space (as well as an unspecified setting), Beauty and the Beast is a story applicable to any generation from any location.

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