Week 5

La belle et la bête (1946)

Jean Cocteau, a French poet, novelist,playwright, artist and filmmaker created the classic La belle et la bête in 1946, one year after the German occupation of France. The story revolves around two central characters Belle and The Beast. The plot develops from the point when Belle’s father is threatened with death for his fateful picking of a rose off of the Beast’s rose bush. The Beast is a lover of all things beautiful yet ironically he is the most hideous monstrosity to have ever been conceived. The Beast has biological tendencies, and exibits human emotion. Despite the Beast’s threatening behavior, he has a heart of a lion and only wants to be understood, so instead of killing the father of Belle he proposes a solution to the little problem that he intended to increase in scale. The Beast decides that one of the father’s daughters must arrive at his castle or else heads will roll. The external persona that the Beast exudes is not really who he is; he is a creature of feelings and sexual capacity. But when Belle’s father sends her to the castle for his own sake, the use of time modulation is essential in emphasize the fear that Belle has of the beast and is essential to capturing her initial response of the castle. The beast’s actions in the exposition portray him as an easily flustered creature that has intentions to kill over small issues, however his actions later change as Belle is introduced to him. His actions and reactions give the Beast emotional complexities and make him a believable monster to the audience. Later on we see his soft side, he is quite a ladies monster, he is persistent, and somewhat creepily depressing and as equally pitiful.

This fairy tale has diegetic elements that set up the genre. The characters have specific qualities that exaggerate their flaws dramatically. The objects are ornate and accent several key items such as the eyes on the statues moving, the candelabra, and Cocteau’s prime obsession, mirrors with in the creepy castle. These elements add to the creation of a well-rounded and thoughtful narrative. The narrative in the film was strong and the structure presented allowed it to be followed. The range that the film represented indicated a restricted range meaning that the narrative has limited points of view and we as an audience mostly never know more than what the characters know of their fate. The depth of this film is objective and is restricted to what the characters see, do and not what they think.

Overall I enjoyed the film and it kept me engaged but the whole time I saw this commercial playing over in my head.

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One thought on “Week 5

  1. You gave really well thought out commentary on The Beauty and the Beast. I have to say it got me wondering. We all know the classic story whether it’s from the Disney version, or the storybook version. It is safe to say that this original version differs in some ways to what we all are accustomed to. After reading your post, I questioned if the beast really fell in love with Belle because she was worth loving or if she was the first woman he had ever been in contact with and he had hopes of breaking the spell. Is it not suspicious that he does not tell her how he ended up being a beast until after the spell is broken? Or that he does not tell her how to break the spell until she is in love with him? I mean, he did sort of jump the gun when he asked for her hand in marriage after they had dinner only a few times.

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