Friday, January 22, 2010

Movie review: La Belle et la Bête

The 1946 fantasy film by French poet/artist Jean Cocteau tells the story of Beauty and the Beast, using fantastical stage settings and ethereal costumes. You can see where the Disney writers drew their inspiration for the living furniture. Except here, the effect is unsettling rather than cute. The acting is exaggerated, with frequent dramatic pauses that create storybook illustration tableaux, in a good way. The scenes in the Beast's castle are especially like this, and the Beast's dialog is painfully overwrought. It's strange, but cool.

All in all, it's an effective retelling of the fairy tale that works for children as well as adults, although it's certainly geared toward adults. For fans of fantasy films, this should be a must-see, since it's regarded as one of the earliest and best.

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