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'La Belle Et La Bete 1946' Taming What Cannot be Tamed 27/10/2015

Fig 1 'La Belle Et La Bete 1946' Poster
This film review will focus on the connection between Beauty and Beast, how they affect each other, design choices and many other topics that will be unveiled as this review progresses. The film was made in 1946, was directed by 'Jean Cocteau' and was produced by 'André Paulvé'. The story focuses on a family in France and a girl named Beauty/Belle (Josette Day) being part of a family that is in serious financial trouble, having their possessions taken from them and the risk of losing their home due to their fathers endeavours. On his way home the father stumbles on an abandoned mansion, when leaving the mansion the father picks a rose for his daughter Belle but is confronted by the Beast (Jean Marais) and threatens to kill him however makes a much more interesting offer. He will not kill the father if one of the daughters takes his place. Belle take his fathers place and is accompanied by the beast almost every single day until one day he lets Belle see her father on the condition that she comes back within a week. Being manipulated by her siblings she breaks this promise, returns to Beast only to find that he is dying. Then as she confesses her love for Beast by sheer luck Avenant is shot with Diana's arrow from trying to break into the sanctuary and is turned into another Beast. Beast then is released from his curse and is transformed into a handsome prince, then taking Belle away to his kingdom where she will become his Queen.

Fig 2 The Mansion Hallway
The special effects in the film are made in a way that was not expensive but also gave an effect of eeriness. Have people as props gives the viewer not only a sense of that the mansion is alive but gives a very creepy feeling to the mansion. The candles on the walls are held by human hands, there are human faces everywhere, silently keeping watch over any guest or trespasser. The sets are also designed quite intelligently, for example Belle's room is made like some sort of church, a place of holiness and purity, which reflects her personality. Everywhere else in the mansion the faces are very intimidating and hostile, but in Belles room they are soft and not as threatening. Its entrance hall is lined with candelabra held by living human arms that extend from the walls. "The statues are alive, and their eyes follow the progress of the characters (are they captives of the Beast, imprisoned by spells?)." (R. Ebert, 1999)  The rest of the mansion however is very dark, old and gloomy, but the only other place that is like Belles room is Diana's sanctuary, one can therefore link the two and say that Belle is the only one who can break Beasts curse by seeing through his ugly exterior and what lies beneath. The design of beast was also a very interesting process, due to the fact the film was made in 1946 there was no colour they wouldn't have to focus on what colour the beast was because of the technical limitations. All the team would have needed to do was research how to merge a man with this beast like figure and see what textures they could use to give Beast a bit more of an animal like realism whilst at the same time still being able to recognise him as a human. They Beast is also designed is interesting, he hand the body of what appears to be a mix of a dog and lion. He is dressed in royal robes as if he is some sort of king, this would suit the fact he is partially a lion given that lions have are a very iconic animal, being shown as kings or leaders, being top of the food chain. Also notice on the bridge in the film how there a statues of dogs, Beast also being partly a dog shows that he can have some sort of loyalty, reason being is that a dogs are seen a companions and are usually very loyal creatures.

Fig 3 Belle
 In the film, Belle is portrayed as this innocent, pure woman who's sloe intent is to stay loyal to her family. Unlike her sisters she is not spoilt but she is very hard working and dedicated, her sisters having a large sum of money and the accessory's to use they have a manipulative control over the men. "Potential for brutality and violence is immediately clear in La Belle et la Bête, a sly and dark spin on the classic story of a cursed Beast (Jean Marsais) who becomes even more tormented after forcing a lovely damsel to hold up in his fantastical abode. During one early moment involving some misguided archery practice, an errant arrow flies through one open window almost skewering a lap dog. The threat of death is always but a few inches away. What follows is an explosion of bickering, accusing, and backstabbing that has become a familiar trait for Belle’s (Josette Day) dysfunctional family." (G. Heath Jr, 2014).Beauty does not use this to her advantage but instead works for her father to make his life easier, knowing he has a lot of stress. Beauty's innocence is shown through her character but one scene show how pure she really is. Crying, a gift bestowed by the Beast, her tears into diamonds. Diamonds are usually seen as the rarest gem, pure and almost priceless, showing how pure beauty really is on the inside. When Belle stays at the Beasts house she has all the riches in the world but still denies Beasts love. The reason being is that Beast attempts to bribe Belle into loving him by giving her many gifts, this fails however and really the only way to gain Belle's love was to try and overcome his animal like nature. Beast would come back as if he was drunk and Belle would be disgusted, Beast's feeling would be hurt and he would have to change in order for Beauty to love him. She is also used to doing all of the dirty and horrible jobs, so by being in Beasts royal custody is like being a prisoner of riches.

Fig 4 Beast
The way Beast affects Belle is rather odd, meeting her only at 7:00, asking the same question every day "Will you marry me?" and his obsession with her is rather odd. Belle does feel pressured by beast however his intentions are clear right from the beginning. He describes himself as ugly, he repeats this constantly and the reason for this is that it shows what he has become. Offering Belle riches beyond anything she could imagine, he tries to bride her love but no success. If she can see past his ugly exterior and see what he really is then the spell will be broken. He is desperate to be released from this curse a desperately wants to be freed from what he has done. "There’s a furry Freudian undercurrent to the beast (Jean Marais) and his longing gaze at the sweet young woman (Josette Day) he entraps – while his redemption echoes his home country’s emergence from four-and-a-half years of Nazi occupation." (K. Harley, 2013) He is portrayed as this Huge, Powerful Beast, but at the same time he is shown as Kind, Royal, Trusting companion. Having this effect on a single character was not only beautifully executed but almost to perfection, showing both sides of the same coin and knowing which side the audience wants it to land on.


Heath, G Jr. (2014). 
La Belle Et La Bête Review. 


Last accessed 28/10/2015.

Harley, K. (2013). 
La Belle Et La Bête Review.


Last accessed 28/10/2015.

Ebert, R. (1999). 
Beauty and the Beast . 


Last accessed 28/10/2015.

Illustration Bibliography

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  1. Another interesting review Tom :)
    Just make sure that you proofread before posting, as you have a few typos in there - 'sloe' instead of 'sole, 'bride' instead of 'bribe' etc.
    It might have been good to talk a little more about the production art, and how the concept art fed through into the final show...

    Looking forward to reading your next review!


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