Monday, 31 October 2016

"La Belle et la Bête" (1946)

Fig. 1 "La Belle et la Bête" Poster
"La Belle et la Bête" is a french black and white film directed by Jean Cocteau in 1946. "La Belle et la Bête" has inspired Disney to re-create this film. Disney version of this film is more recognizable. (Fig.2) As the movie is made for children: more romantic and has more musical elements. Jean Cocteau's film is not made for that purpose, it shows all the negative human behaviour, such as, envy and greed.

Fig. 2 "Beauty and The Beast" 1991
Fig. 3 Beauty glides through the castle's halls.
The story of this movie is simple, the viewer is taken to see how Beauty saves her father from the beast, by risking her own life. As the story progresses and the beauty is in the Beast's castle, she glides through the castles's hall ways searching for the beast. As Ebert describes this in his review: "seems to run dreamily a few feet above the floor. Later, her feet do not move at all, but she glides, as if drawn by some magnetic force," (Ebert, 1999) while the curtains from the windows wrap around her.(Fig.3) This effectively makes the viewer feel like they're in a dream. Without finding him she runs out of the castle. One glimpse and the beast appears looking at her, then she gets scared and faints on the ground.
Fig. 4
In this movie beast is shown as a werewolf, in shining clothes. As it is known, that Jean Cocteau was a fashion designer and with a help from Christian Bérard sketches, Jean Cocteau was able to make this dreamy looking clothes. So clothes for Beauty and the Beast were fantastically done. Sometimes you would see shining diamonds in beasts clothes to give this fancy look. Only because this movie is made in black and white its hard to imagine what colour would these amazing clothes be. As discussed by Crowther in his review: "exquisite affairs, glittering and imaginative, lacking only the glow of colour," (Crowther, 1947)

Some parts of the movie might not seem that realistic, for example, how Beauty faints or how in the end of the movie Beast becomes human and flies away into the sky with Beauty in his hands. There is no logical explanation in it, how did this happen or why. As Dennis Schwartz says in his review: "The only weaknesses are when the film deals with reality, which are less than enchanting."(Schwartz, D. 2006)

Fig. 5

Nevertheless, the effects were used great in this movie. People couldn't expect much of these effects when you start watching this movie, but afterwards you can see alot more. Beast covered in smoke or different refection from the mirror, makes the audience wonder how did they made that.(Fig. 5) Moreover, this movie was made long before computer graphics and the accompanying revolution in special effects. So these methods to capture mysterious, magical look was harder than it was thought.

Fig. 6 "Beauty and The Beast" (2014)

Fig. 7 "Beauty and The Beast" (2017)

All in all, "La Belle et la Bête" is the new type of movie which shows desperate love for another person. However, this movie has inspired many companies to re-create the same magic feeling in new "The Beauty and The Beast" (2017) movie. (Fig. 5 and Fig. 6)


 Crowther, (1947) 
(Accessed on 31 October 2016)

R. (1999)
(Accessed on 31 October 2016)

Schwartz, D.  (2006) (Accessed on 31 October 2016)

Illustration List:



  1. Hi Karolina,

    'As it is known Jean Cocteau was a fashion designer, so clothes for Beauty and the Beast were fantastically done.'... The costumes for this were actual drawn by Christian Bérard; his set design is the reason the film looks the way it does, with the chalky, dreamlike sets...

    1. Sorry for this mistake, I think I didn't quite understood, which one is which, because the information in the internet mislead me to wrong thoughts. Sorry!