La Belle et a la Bette was a film filled with recurring motifs and implicit meanings. The characters are introduce to the audience without addressing their time/era or location. As the movie proceeds we noticed that most of the characters are self-absorbed individuals chain to the idea of expressing emotion through materialistic means. However Belle, the prettiest compared to her two sisters is able to maintain a humble mind and gear her time and energy to more important factors in her life.
As the story unfolds and the beast is revealed to be a sentimental and caring being, we can deduct from our previous knowledge of fairy tales, and from the 1990s version of beauty and the beast that the characters (Belle and the Beast) will end up together. A recurring theme in the movie is the sense of knowing how an individual is not by how they look but how they are in the inside. This showing of internal beauty is repeated throughout the film through the use of the mirror that displays what the character thinks about, Belle’s tears of diamonds, and the Beast’s relentless desire within to show that love can turn something ugly into the most beautiful thing you have ever experienced.
Various objects throughout the movie had implicit meaning. For example, the statues with faces around the castle with bright eyes can mean the beauty is in the eye of the beholder although, the explanation is never really given and the statues are seldomly addressed. Meanings for other objects are left to the viewer when it comes to the arms that act as servants, the construction of the garden, and the curse which the beast was put under. Overall I thought it was a great film and love that some of these things are not fully explain and left to the viewers to interpret. I believe it gives us a little more liberty in how we perceive the movie and its purpose.
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.
La Belle et a la Bette is one of the various incarnations of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, sharing similar elements with other versions but standing alone in its interpretation and presentation. However, it stays true to classic fairy tales in that each character is hyperbolic in their personalities and actions, there is an overarching lesson that is achieved by the end, and there is a fairly happy (and a little weird) ending.
The director, Cocteau, was practically obsessed with fairy tales and the way they were told by different people and in different periods. This is evidenced in his surrealist take on the beast’s castle, which is really the main setting where it is most utilized. He also tried to convey the circular aspect of fairy tales, of the way cause and effect play out to create a story that could be considered timeless. Much of the film’s conflict sprung up from either greed or the pursuit of material security. The causes were not so much events in the story, but personal attributes of the characters that really drove the plot. Because of selfishness, the sister’s were nasty and prideful, treating Belle like a servant probably throughout her entire life. Minor greed was the cause of the son’s debt, which came back to financially devastate the family later on. And finally, the father’s ambition for money and status led him to being lost in the woods and getting himself indebted to the Beast, which set the stage for the true plot of the movie.
On the opposite spectrum, Belle’s selfless and humble nature led her to ask for merely a rose. This was the real reason she felt compelled to take her father’s place. The characters in the movie acted as if it was her fault and she deserved whatever punishment she recieved, but by the end you realize that her selfless request still had far greater success than any of the other character’s endeavors. The sisters remained poor, and the other love interest was transformed into another beast.
Another aspect of the narrative of this movie is its circular nature in dealing with the central lesson: It’s what’s on the inside that counts, and the pursuit of superficial happiness will leave you with nothing. We were never told how the beast came to be, and throughout the movie I wondered when that would be brought up and what role that information would play in the movie. But the director only hinted to it throughout the movie, giving us snippets of the truth that came to completion at the end. It was shown that the beast had countless riches and magic powers at his disposal, but as the theme suggests, he was not happy. He could create a beautiful necklace from thin air, but could not change his face. At the very end, you see Belle’s other love interest shot with an arrow, turning him into another beast. This was because he was trying to get to the riches in the pavilion. While this illustrated the main lesson of the story, and answered the question of how the original beast came to be, it also left a definite loose end to the story. I believe that Cocteau left it there as a testament to the circular nature of fairytales, how there is always someone in need of the same lesson over and over again.
Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête undoubtedly is classified as a fairytale. Analogous to most works of the same genre, La Belle et la Bête is a narrative. Events occur, the characters react to them, something results from their reaction, and the cycle continues until the resolution of the story. It follows a very distinct pattern of cause and effect. For instance, because Belle became accepting of the Beast’s external repulsiveness and saw him for his inner beauty, he would be freed from the curse cast upon him. On a similar note, due to Adélaïde’s scoundrel like persona, he was shot by an arrow and given a deserving punishment. Most of these events follow what is known as causal motivation. This suggests that information is placed before a scene actually takes place. Sometimes we are able to infer the cause without it being directly given to the viewer. We knew that at some point the Beast and Belle would live happily together and that Adélaïde did not have anything good coming for him. The story time in this film was a little easier to follow than most films simply because every night Belle would sit to dine at precisely 7 pm. This allowed me, as a spectator, to know when a day would pass. Being aware of time is somewhat crucial because without this knowledge one may not realize how long Belle is being kept in the castle for. The range of this film should be considered unrestricted. The audience certainly knew more than the characters were aware of- if necessary. Similarly, the camera acted as an omniscient narrator, going around the castle and such. The film possesses a subjective depth in terms of narration because we see and hear things identical to how they are seen by the characters themselves. It is customary for Cocteau to use stories told cross-culturally which is why La Belle et la Bête comes as no surprise. This movie follows a very common story line of an ugly individual wanting to be with the most gorgeous women or man, the hideousness is overcome, they are accepted for what’s on the inside and the two live happily ever after.
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.
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.
La belle et la bête was enjoyable. The film was artistic and featured multiple narrative elements such as time, range, and depth. The older film having faced issues with development during the making of the film has pulled off a great feat. Now to begin the analysis:
When Belle is using the Beast’s glove to transport back and forth between the her father’s house and the castle, the beginning scene is slow as she fades away and fades back through the wall of her father’s house. The second time she transports, she fades in and out much faster. The third time, you can hardly tell she did as all she did was slip on the glove and get up! Time is playing a part in this scene as each scene was shorter as the whole concept of transportation was already introduced before.
The french Beauty and the Beast uses an unrestricted range when Avenant and Ludovic try to steal the Beast’s treasure and kill him. The Beast and Belle are in another scene completely unaware of what is going on in the room full of treasure. These two scenes play out parallel to each other and the audience knows more than the characters do individually. This allows the director to portray the cause and effect events that allow the Beast to rise once again.
As far as depth goes, the movie is mostly subjective on Belle but is not privy to her thoughts and feelings. We are only able to catch what she sees and what others say to her. When not following Belle, the movie is objective as it jumps between the characters and the events in which they are experiencing. This way we can see the whole story and not a one sided story of Belle.
Other than learning a bit of French, it was a good experience to watch the Beauty and the Beast and compare it to the Disney one that I remember. Sometimes during the film, I was comparing scenes. I was always waiting for the wolves to come out and Beast to save Belle. I was waiting for Gaston to appear although he never did. It is interesting to watch this original when the Disney one is on your mind. I look forward to discussing this tomorrow!
In La Belle et la Bête, Cocteau’s extra diegetic opening remarks to the audience introduces the narrative as a fairy tale. This consequently leads the audience to expect a happy ending at the end of the film. The narrative begins when Belle asks her father to bring her back a rose. This leads to the Beast’s ultimatum to her father of death or the company of one of his daughters. Essentially, the moment that this conflict is resolved, the through line continues towards more heightened conflicts such as if Belle can truly love the Beast and if Avenant will ever attain Belle. Using parallel montage, Cocteau combines these two important conflicts at the film’s climax as the Beast seems to be dying and Avenant has just gone through the glass window and into Diana’s garden. What’s interesting about this scene is that it contains unrestricted range as most of the film has contained as well. Belle and the Beast are unaware that Avenant and Ludovic are at the castle while the two men are also unaware that she is tending to the beastly man they came to kill. Although they never meet, both plots are resolved when the Beast is transformed back into a human and Avenant is transformed into the same beast he tried to kill, ironically for love. Human again, Belle falls in love with the Beast and the audience receives the happy ending that they had waited for.
Two interesting observations that I made was the film’s use of the mirror and castle to add to the plot. The mirror had significance because it allowed the characters themselves to have unrestricted range into glimpses of the other character’s lives. For example, Belle was able to see her father and the Beast was able to find Belle through the mirror. My other observation was that much of the plot space in the film, especially in the castle, served a deeper role to the narrative. This is especially true in the castle because much of the live objects, such as the living statues, served as supporting characters to the story. A perfect example of this would be the statue of Diana shooting the arrow that transformed Avenant.
Ultimately, Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête was a narration filled with a deep meaning of inner beauty and the traditional happily ever after.
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.
Something that I found particularly interesting in La Belle et la Bête was the varying change of point of view throughout. At first, the viewers are led to believe that the beast is a horrible monster that means only harm (although the protection of the roses is a little curious and contrasting). This view, from Belle’s father, is maintained throughout the film. Following this viewpoint, Belle is also terrified until she is led to believe otherwise and is able to see the Beast’s sweet nature and personal inner conflict.
These two viewpoints come together in the scene where Belle is by her father’s bedside and she starts to vocalize her fondness of the Beast. Her father is clearly disapproving, considering the only prior knowledge that he has of the beast. As viewers, it’s hard not to root for the Beast because we have been able to see his true character when the father could not. This shows a restricted narrative range because we know different points of view, but we don’t know any more than any of the characters do.
To me, this film mainly had a subjective depth. The music and the atmosphere of the scenes lead our feelings and opinions about the particular moment in the direction that it’s supposed to. If it was completely up to our interpretation and were without all the emotional context clues, we would probably think the same thing about the Beast that Belle’s father does.
My favorite part about these varying viewpoints was obviously the end when they all collide and the real fairytale message is sent home to the viewers. With Belle’s materialistic, jealous, and greedy siblings (along with her wannabe-lover) in hot pursuit of ruining Belle’s happiness and stealing the Beast’s riches, fairytale karma is served. A new Beast is reincarnated and the sisters see their “true selves” in the mysteriously blunt and truthful mirror and the Beast is at last transformed to be Belle’s perfect prince charming. What’s interesting to me about this collection of character fate is that everything that we knew was true from Belle’s viewpoint is finally brought to attention.