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aka - Belle et La Bete, La
France 1946
Directed by
Jean Cocteau
95 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Beauty And The Beast

Made right at the end of WWII, Jean Cocteau's wonderful adaptation of the famous fable by 18th century author Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont is a classic of art cinema.

Belle (Josette Day) is the Cinderella-like daughter of a ruined merchant (Marcel André) and sister to a sponger of a brother and two shrewish sisters. Returning from an attempt to salvage his fortunes, the merchant stumbles across a magical castle and inadvertently earns the wrath of its owner, The Beast (Jean Marais), when he takes a rose from the garden for Belle. The Beast spares the merchant's life, but only on the condition that he send one of his daughters to take his place. Belle, of course, goes to The Beast, who immediately falls in love with her.

Thanks to the fine performances with Jean Marias, impressively made up as The Beast and Josette Day as the beauty with a virtuous heart who learns to love The Beast for himself rather than his hideous appearance, Cocteau manages to make this allegorical fantasy entirely credible, whilst the seductive black and white photography by Henri Alekan, superb art direction by Christian Berard and a fine score by Georges Auric create an equally convincing fairy tale world for this story of love triumphant to take place in.




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