Okay, first and foremost this is one fantastic movie and is quite rightly seen as a clasic. Surreal, beautifuly shot and needing none of today's digital effects, la belle et la bete will take you into Jean Cocteau's world deeper every time you see it. Here are my reviews of both the BFI and Criterion restored versions. I have viewed both so I hope this will help you in deciding which version to purchase.
Tbe BFI version contains the following: I give this a 3 star rating, Top marks for the film, but a very low score for the disappointing presentation of the film itself.
Film Notes And Biographies
Short Film Screening At The Majestic
Commentary By Christopher Frayling
Aspect Ratio: 1.33 Full Screen
Main Language: French
It also promises us a version of the film "taken from a new & restored print" A shame that this is seemingly not the case. I previously owned the above dvd and as another reviewer pointed out, the print is peppered with scratches, white flecks, holes and is so bad as to be distracting. A shame as the movie itself is wonderful.
But search for the R1 Criterion Restored Edition (search for Beauty and the Beast on this very site, rather than "La belle et la Bete")
The disc contains:
* Available Subtitles: English
* Available Audio Tracks: French (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
* Commentary by: writer/cultural historian Sir Christopher Frayling
* Commentary by: film historian Arthur Knight
* New high-definition transfer
* Original opera written for the film by renowned composer Philip Glass
* Screening at the Majestic, 1995 documentary featuring interviews with cast and crew
* Interview with cinematographer Henri Alekan
* Rare behind-the-scenes and publicity stills
* Original 1945 trailer narrated and directed by Cocteau
* A note about the film by Cocteau
* Film restoration demonstration
* 1995 restoration trailer
* A reprint of Mme. Leprince de Beaumont's original fable translated from the French
* Notes by Francis Steegmuller, from the definitive book Cocteau: A Biography
* New and improved English subtitle translation
Far more extras, with the Phillip Glass opera among one of the highlights. I wouldn't call myself an opera fan, but the extensive instrumental pieces that run throughout Glass' alternative score are beautiful and fit the movie perfectly, taking it to another level and giving you 2 different experiences of 1 fantastic movie.
Did I mention that the restoration is nothing short of beautiful? Criterion have made an admirable effort with it and it's near perfect.
If you have the BFI copy, sell it immediatly and buy the Criterion restored instead. A far superior dvd in every way.