Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Anatomy - La Belle et la Bête (1946) Jean Cocteau.

This was first time I've ever seen any media based on the classic fairy tale that is Beauty and the Beast, so although I've heard of the story this was the first time I got a real understanding of what it was about. The story is about a merchant who loses all his ships at sea and thus his wealth. He is then is forced with his three daughters to work on a small farm. Sometime later the merchant hears that one of his ship has been found and returned and thay all hope that they will be able to regain some of their wealth, before he goes he asks his three daughters if there is anything they would like who of them ask for riches but Belle (Beauty) asks for a rose. The merchant goes to his ship only to find anything of value has gone. On his way home the merchant gets lost in the forest ans finds the beast castle, there he his greeted with hospitality but hands that come out of the walls and he is fed and sleeps. Upon leaving the castle he sees a rose and remembers what Belle asks for and picks it, the Beast seeing this tells the Merchant he has stolen from him and the he shall die or have one of his daughters in his place. Personally I found this a little unjust for stealing a rose but according to Libertas Film Magazine "In fairy tales, there are grave punishments for breaking the rules" and I guess that's a theme that holds strong in not just Baeuty and the Beast but other fairy tales alike. Without going too much into what happens in the story after that you'll find this is where the fairy tale really beings, as Belle stays at his castle and like the classic fairy tale she eventually falls in love with the Beast.  

 This film was very much like watching a play at the theatre, it is full of classic theatre type sets and the acting with very much over the top and theatrical. For its time I can imagine some of the shots and special effects were quite cutting edge, although the film could have worked without them. The Gaurdian put it "It's all the better for not relying on astonishing special effects" and although they effects were good for its time they didn't out do the rest of the film.

 The one part of this film that kept my attention was the statues, it was almost as if they were looking after Belle or just watching over her rather than keeping her prisoner in the castle, Time Out decribe it as "wonderfully designed ......complete with fantastic living statuary". this was accomplished by painting peolpe to look like statues. A classic example of theatre techniques used here.

This like any other fairy tale ends with the happily ever after scene. After Belle says she loves him he turns into a handsome man.

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