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Beauty and the Beast Movie Review

jean cocteau fairy film

For many people, Jean Cocteau's 1946 version of Beauty and the Beast is the loveliest film ever made, and one of the few that I wish I could go back in time to see again for the very first time. (The only American film of that era with even a fraction of its sense of imagination, wonder, and style is Val Lewton's 1944 classic Curse of the Cat People, most notably the sequences in the enchanted garden when Simone Simon as an ethereal ghost romps with Ann Carter as a lonely little girl.) Beauty and the Beast is a classic fairy tale about loneliness and love. Beauty (Josette Day) is a hard-working girl with simple tastes and very few dreams. She agrees to stay with the Beast mainly to save her father's life after he steals a rose from the Beast's garden to bring home to her. But the Beast (Jean Marais) is gentle and honest with her and she begins to care about him. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was napping in 1946 when Cocteau's exquisite La Belle et la Bête was released. Beauty and the Beast seldom fails to wrap its spell around those who still believe in fairy tales and Jean Cocteau believed in them with a passion all his life. Although he is faithful to a child's-eye view of fairy tales, his film is filled with surreal visions and sly humor for adult appreciation. AKA: La Belle et la Bête.

1946 90m/B FR Jean Marais, Josette Day, Marcel Andre, Mila Parely, Nane Germon, Michel Auclair, Georges Auric; D: Jean Cocteau; W: Jean Cocteau; C: Henri Alekan. VHS, LV, DVD

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