Week 4 Blog Assignment

Cocteau’s rendition of La Belle et La Bete utilizes certain aspects of narrative including perspective and range and depth of narration in order to relay his own iteration of the classic fairy tale.

And as the story is heavily based on the fairy tale, the audience is already given a set of expectations to be seen throughout the film. For instance, we can no doubt expect Beauty to be with Beast at the end.

Also noted is the various camera angles we viewpoint we see through in order to paint the tale. At first it seemed that the story was gonna be majority in Belle’s POV, a restricted view. However, the scene we will see will often shift between characters, leading to a more unrestricted range of camera shots, especially seen through Beast’s usage of the mirror in order to find Belle’s whereabouts. There are also several points where a POV shot is used through several characters eyes. Due to viewers not being able to know the thoughts of characters unless spoken, the narration is in an objective depth.

We can also see clear causal motivation in the beginning in the form of Avenant obsessive love for Belle, which will lead to future conflict. However, the plot could not be constructed without a beginning, as seen where the Father is at Beast’s castle and makes a deal with him. It is because of this, everything in the movie now begin to move forward into what it is.

There is no specified sense of time or space within the story. We know that the span of the movie was at least one week, as Belle left the castle to go home in that time. But other than that, there is nothing else we can go along with to assess how long the story takes place. Same with the space, as it is not specified where it is or the distances traveled by characters.

The extra-diagetic opening and music provide a subtle charm and sense of mood that matches with the story and scenes, provoking certain feelings that mesh well with what is onscreen.

The film had unique use and placement of plastics(or maybe simply non talking characters) and narrative that create Cocteau’s own version of the story that ends with the audience’s fulfilled expectations.

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4 thoughts on “Week 4 Blog Assignment

  1. Nice post! I liked your observation about time and space, which was something I hadn’t really considered as much when I first watched it. There definitely is a lacking we get in the sense of time, and I feel like this was intentionally portrayed to add to the mystique of the fairytale. Belle’s time spent in the Beast’s castle, much like the way these sequences were filmed, run much like a dream. In a dream we do not really get a true sense of time. This is probably an influence of surrealism on Cocteau. There’s so many mysteries surrounding the castle, such as the arms and faces in the walls. They are purposefully left unexplained, just as the amount of time is undefined. Space is another one of these factors. The actual size of the castle and the distance it is from Belle’s home is not even referred to, just as in a dream.
    I also like how you said the extra-diagetic opening adds to the mood. Cocteau’s almost humorous way of introducing the material to us definitely establishes the mood. We are to told to believe like a child would. This develops certain expectations and puts us in a more relaxed, lighthearted state. He wants us to prepare ourselves for the following hour and a half of pure fantasy, and this adds to our enjoyment. There’s a certain way to experience this film, and his opening is a set of instructions.

  2. Cocteau’s La Belle et La Bete certainly does play with perspective, range, and depth in terms of narration. The film can undoubtedly be characterized as a fairy tale. The second one learns it is a fairy tale they probably expect some sort of happy ending. These are the types of expectations the audience is expected to have. Camera angles play an important role through out the film. I would actually say that the majority of the film takes on a more restricted range than unrestricted. This is due to the fact that the camera would constantly change from character to character to catch what they were saying. Also, the story is really only told using a few characters, limiting the number of viewpoints. The Beast using the mirror to locate Belle is a perfect example of a POV shot because it is a shot seen through the character’s eyes. We do not really have any knowledge regarding the time or place in which the story unfolds. This creates some sort of ambiguity, allowing the spectators to formulate his or her own idea of time and space.

  3. As you stated, the audience does automatically have expectations as this is a classic story that we’ve all undoubtedly heard. However, I think the choice to reveal the Beast’s curse at the end of the story (versus the Disney version which apparently reveals it at the beginning) is interesting and it changes our expectations slightly. In Cocteau’s story, we obviously expect a happy ending in which Belle falls in love with him in the end, but since we don’t know of the Beast’s curse, we could not know that the curse was potentially reversible and that he might turn back into a handsome prince in the end. We just expect Belle to finally accept his appearance and love him anyway (or at least I did, I’ve never actually seen the Disney version). I think it sort of takes away from the theme of the film, (beauty is in the eyes of the beholder/love can make a person ugly, etc) to have him turn gorgeous again in the end. It sort of proves the opposite of its theme, since Belle really didn’t explicitly say that she loved Beast until he was good-looking again.

  4. While watching the movie, I never considered the fact that falling in love with the beast and inversely with Belle, took such a short period of time. The film was such an emotional roller coaster with such a heavily anticipated ending that it felt like years instead of thirty minutes. The fact that falling in love took such a short amount of time could be a sentiment to the time period, where most marriages were arranged and love was something that you accepted instead of searched for. In a time where people married for wealth and social status, love was probably a foreign concept and the love story of the 40’s is probably a lot shorter than the love story of modern day.

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