It is a basic property of television, novels and film that characters cause and react to events and that their reactions cause more events and affect others; it is through this cycle that narratives are born. Though there are several elements of narrative, I would like to focus on causal motivation in La Belle et la Bête.
Sometimes, directors drop hints to foreshadow a coming cause or effect; this happened at least twice in the film. At the very beginning of the movie the boys are shown shooting arrows outside of their home, into open windows and almost hitting the girls. At first, this comes off as silly shenanigans that the boys were getting into and it seemed just part of the exposition to characterize the boys as careless and the girls as whiny. At the end of the film however, the bow and arrow comes full circle when Ludovic and Avenant go to slay the Beast and they take bows with them. The motif occurs once more, as Avenant is shot with an arrow and turned into the new Beast by a magical statue. The other instance of a clue being planted is when the camera cuts quickly to Beast’s glove as Belle sets it down in her house. It is shown to indicate some cause or effect, which it does. Later when Belle puts on the glove and transports herself back to Beast’s home, she realizes that she is missing the key to Diana’s Pavilion. In this way, the shot of the glove foreshadows that when she uses the glove again, something either good or bad will happen.
Contextualizing a film in its historical timeline also often helps us better understand its narrative. This film was made just after the end of the German occupation of France and because of this, France was both liberated and bogged down with postwar stresses. This relates to the film in that Belle was something of a slave and prisoner in her own home and getting out, though she was still sort of being held captive at Beast’s house, made for a better life for her. In relation to the nonfictional citizens of France who were watching this film, a fairy tale land encompasses exactly what they needed to get through the tough times they had already and were about to face: a little surrealism, a little fantasy and a little magic.