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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cocteau Masterpiece
The tale of Beauty and The Beast has been told in various forms for thousands of years. In cinema we have adaptations in King Kong(1933); Frankenstein(1931); Jekyl And Hyde(1932); The Phantom of the Opera(1925); The Hunchback of Notre Dame(1939); Creature From The Black Lagoon(1954) and more recently Edward Scissorhands(1990) and Shrek(2001). The tale will continue to...
Published on 4 Sept. 2006 by Nobody

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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Buyers Guide
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...
Published on 2 Jan. 2006


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cocteau Masterpiece, 4 Sept. 2006
By 
Nobody (London, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
The tale of Beauty and The Beast has been told in various forms for thousands of years. In cinema we have adaptations in King Kong(1933); Frankenstein(1931); Jekyl And Hyde(1932); The Phantom of the Opera(1925); The Hunchback of Notre Dame(1939); Creature From The Black Lagoon(1954) and more recently Edward Scissorhands(1990) and Shrek(2001). The tale will continue to spawn new adaptations but for me there is only one version, Jean Cocteau's `La Belle et La Bete'(1946).

La Belle et La Bete is adapted from the abridged version of the fairy tale by Madame Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. The story is interpreted as a young woman's coming of age tale with sexual desire being regarded as beastly. Therefore any man feeling this desire would be beastly and only when she learns to regard sexual desire as natural does she find happiness and the beast is transformed into prince charming. The film has a stronger masculine quality with emphasis shifting away from Belle towards the beast's character. The film has also been interpreted in terms of the creative process of artist and muse, suffering for your art. Cocteau also includes many references to mythology (Pavilion Of Diana) pointing to the origins of the tale. The film also includes elements of the Cinderella fairy tale with the inclusion of the ugly sisters.

Jean Cocteau asks us, as an adult audience, at the start to suspend belief and see as a child, which was directed at critics whom he regarded as being too arty or intellectual, one notable being Jean-Paul Satre who had criticised Cocteau for his lack of political commitment. Cocteau replied that his only commitment was to himself and his art. (The suffering artist)

Josette Day and Jean Marais star as Beauty and the Beast respectively. Josette Day has exquisite statuesque presence, which gives her an unattainable cold quality, which is far removed from the original inquisitive naïve peasant girl of the original tale. Jean Marais gives an excellent poetic theatrical performance of the beast suffering for beauty. Jean would later act in another Cocteau masterpiece, `Orphee'(1950). Together for lack of a better word they are magical. The cinematography was by Henri Alekan (Roman Holiday; Wings Of Desire) but I believe Cocteau to be the real genius behind everything in this film: set design, lighting, structure, symbolism, multiple layers, a real auteur.

I cannot recommend this film more highly, it's in my top 10 films of all time and it's unlikely to ever leave. If you don't like this then seek help.
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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Buyers Guide, 2 Jan. 2006
By A Customer
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.
Picture Gallery
Film Notes And Biographies
Short Film Screening At The Majestic
Commentary By Christopher Frayling
Aspect Ratio: 1.33 Full Screen
Main Language: French
Subtitles: English
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.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical film, essential viewing, 11 Aug. 2006
By 
David Morley (Brighton, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This film is truely magical and should be required viewing for anyone with a passing interest in cinema.

For a restored print the quality isn't that great but stick with it for a series of fantastic images and a magical tale. The image of human candalabras will stay with you for ever.

Also worth watching is the short film that visits the films locations 50 years on. I assumed it was all filmed in a studio so it just added to the magic to see that the house and castle grounds exist. And Jean Marais stil looks as handsome as ever!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sad, magical and lonely Beast; a Beauty of honesty and awakening love. An incomparable film by Jean Cocteau, 7 Jun. 2007
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Criterion Collection: Beauty & The Beast [DVD] [1946] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
"Don't be a coward; cling to life. You must fight death," Belle pleads with Beast. "Belle, if I were a man," he says, "perhaps I could do as you say. But the poor beasts who want to prove their love can only grovel on the ground and die."

This marvelous film, written and directed by Jean Cocteau, may seem to be a moody retelling of a fairy tale, but it moves much more deeply into the consequences of love, passion and trust. Please note that elements of the plot are discussed. Belle (Josette Day) and her two sisters and brother live with their father, a failing businessman who is about to be ruined. The two sisters are self-centered shrews and the brother is a wastrel. He has a friend, a tall, handsome and vapid fellow who keeps asking Belle to marry him. The father learns his last hope for a business rescue has failed. Returning home from the city, he finds himself in a mist-filled, shadowy forest. He pushes on and then it seems as if the trees are opening a path for him to a huge stone mansion. It appears empty, yet doors open for him. In the hallway he sees candelabra held by living arms. At a table set with food, hands pour wine for him. He drinks and sleeps. When he prepares to leave, still seeing no one, he finds roses growing along a path. He had promised his daughter, Belle, a rose and so he takes one...and immediately is faced with Beast (Jean Marais), covered with fur, menacing and ugly, with sharp teeth and dressed like a prince. Beast says that for taking his rose, the father must either die or send one of his three daughters to live with him. When he returns home, the father finds that his elder two daughters all have reasons not to volunteer. Only Belle says she will gladly go to save her father's life. And off she rides on a huge white horse back to the forest and into the magical home of Beast.

For most of the movie we witness the changing feelings of Belle toward Beast. He is truly a beast. He kills animals in the forest because it is his nature to kill, yet he is lonely to his soul. And Belle discovers he has a soul. In some way she doesn't understand, she is drawn to him. It's not too superficial to say that the Beast is discovering love and that Beauty is discovering a kind of passion which is almost love, not quite pity, and which remains pure because she is honest. They see each other at 7 each evening. He asks the same question as she dines, "Will you marry me?" She begins to look forward to her time with him. Sometimes they'll walk around the mansion's grounds and talk. In time she pleads to return to her home to see her father. Because he loves her, Beast agrees she may go for a week. He will even give her the golden key to all his treasure which will be hers if he dies...and he will die if she doesn't return. The selfishness of her sisters, the greed of her brother and the well-intentioned bravado of his friend all conspire to keep Belle at her father's home. Cocteau eventually gives us a true and tragic joining of two hearts...but also a fairy-tale ending, yet one where we feel sad even as Beauty finds her prince. The Beast has become so sad and complex a figure, so torn by his nature, that we hope there is enough of the Beast in the Prince to keep Beauty interested.

Cocteau has concocted out of a fairy tale a complex and thoughtful look at how the deepest feelings we have about each other can change us. He has created two worlds, the sunny and superficial world of Belle's family and the misty, dark world of Beast, where magic and true feelings can happen. The whole look of the movie is filled with odd and magical scenes...those arms holding the candles and pointing the way, statues and medallions where the faces and the eyes follow Belle, the moment when Belle, unconscious, is carried by Beast into her room and as they pass through the doorway Belle's country clothes are turned into a princesses gown with jewels and pearls, Belle gliding, floating through a hallway as she explores Beast's home. Even the forest, which seemed so threatening when we first entered it with Belle's father, has come to seem much more an expression of Beast's loneliness as well as his nature. All of this has been created by human hands and human ingenuity; there were no computers around to create the effects Cocteau wanted. Knowing this, for me, adds immensely to the magic of the movie. This is not only a wonderful film to own, it's worth watching carefully if you're into how films are made.

The newly restored Criterion edition is superb. If I owned the original Criterion release, I'd be inclined to upgrade.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars That one is not for your kids, it's for you., 16 Oct. 2000
By 
Before I have known Cocteau like a very interesting poet and stage writer and La Belle et La Bete is the first (but sure not the last) of his films for me. I saw the movie just yesterday and was stanned by the visual beauty and surreal mood of the movie. It's amazing how a fairy tale wich is nowadays considered being a child's thing can be turned to a such at the same time macabre and beautiful piece of art by a great artist. Or maybe just returned to the roots? Take your kid's book, forget the Walt Disney images and try to think of what the fairy tales really mean. You will be scared to go to bed (there's something under it). To return to the film - the end left me totally perplexed: I'm not at all sure that they lived happily ever after.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beauty committed to celluloid, 20 Oct. 2001
This is my all time favourite film.I would recommend it to anyone with an appreciation of beauty, as that's what it is, just beautiful to watch.Based on the fairytale of "Beauty and the Beast" it is brought to film immaculately.Josette Day is Beauty and Jean Marais is impressive as Beast.This version is the original and best,nowhere does the tv series or the Disney cartoon come anywhere near this stunning film.Be warned though, it is subtitled.You might also need a hankie in parts too.So just curl up, watch this and let the inner child out.After watching this you'll want to believe in fairytales.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars much unknown yet influential master piece, 4 Oct. 2001
By A Customer
wonderful French telling of the story of Beauty and the Beast, shot in black and white, atmospheric, beautiful, very influential, watch it to see the nods of inspiration from other film makers, the scene in the Beasts Castle of arms holding candlelabra, where Belle glides along a hall way, but does not appear to be walking, very dream like, a real cinematic classic, slightly scary, may be not to be watched by the very young alone, but for all film buffs, one to watch.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Film - disc quality poor., 1 April 2014
By 
Fritz (Liverpool, UK) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There are many releases of this film. This review is of the following item: -
"Criterion Collection: Beauty & The Beast [Blu-ray] [1946] [US Import]"

Note: this is a US version and only plays on US or multi-zone Bluray players! If you dont have one you can probably find a firmware update for your player by searching for "multi-zone bluray" on ebay, etc.

Its proper name is "La Belle et la Bete". I saw this film on the cinema recently; what a gem! A classic tale (well known so I wont waste time explaining it) told in an imaginative, Gothic, sinister and yet charming style. The other reviews here have pretty much said it all about the film. This is an atmospheric film smouldering with themes of adult behaviour and rationalisation. Despite its pretext of a beast with magical powers living in an enchanted castle hidden in a forest, each part of the story has a clear link to what it represents in real life. It is a fairy-tale that reaches into reality. A magical fable with sumptuous black and white cinematography; direct, sharp, clear dialogue this film hooks you from the start.

Having seen what appeared to be a restored version on the cinema, with clear sound and vision I plumped for the Bluray version expecting to get the same. From looking at comments I assumed the Criterion version to be the best and even upgraded mu Bluray to play multi-zone discs (i.e. US discs). Sadly, I was horrified to discover that the picture quality was poor, skin tones instead of smooth are grainy similar to a rough copy of a film. The sound was also below expectations although not as much as the visual aspects.

It will not stop me watching and enjoying this film; but having seen a much better quality print and sound on the cinema I was disappointed. I just dont see how the low audio & visual quality of this release justified it being on Bluray. The whole point of Bluray is improved sound and vision; this release is worse than what you would see on normal TV, so why bother putting it out on Bluray?

The film is a classic, well worth 5 stars. Sadly the quality of my disc was so poor that I have knocked it down to 3 stars. Quite simply, if this is the best release on Bluray then you may as well buy the DVD and get the same quality at a lower price.

But do watch this film, it is a gem.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Romantic Elegy, 18 May 2003
Cocteau's 'La Belle et La Bete' is the perfect marriage of the most exquisite visual imagry in Black & White cinema with an artist's interpretation of a psychologically timeless fable.Using his imagination to create technically stunning visual effects that were not matched for decades to come, Cocteau holds your imagination by asking you to let go of your adult cynicism & ask yourself what your heart is capable of if you can recapture your gift of childhood wonder & be able to say once again, 'Once upon a time...'
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark magic, 30 Nov. 2012
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
The first third of La Belle et La Bete may seem a little too long and a little too slow, but the film still has the power to cast its spell over an audience. At times, perhaps from a modern viewer's perspective, you find yourself admiring the technique a little more than its soul, and Jean Marais' performance as the Beast strangely pales compared to his two-faced suitor, but then he was never exactly a great actor. Yet the complexity that Cocteau manages to bring to the film is still surprising, with neither the brother nor suitor descending to the easy caricature of the two ugly sisters: the former knows he and his sisters are wastrels, but that doesn't make him less of a liability, while the latter is almost in denial of his own nature. But ultimately it's the magical design that seduces, a fairytale kingdom smack in the middle of a believable world, but neither necessarily a benign one.

Criterion's restored DVD and Region A-locked Blu-ray is quite superb, boasting an excellent transfer and a selection of very good extras that exceed those on the BFI's UK DVD - audio commentaries by Arthur Knight and Christopher Frayling, 1995 documentary Screening at the Majestic, TV interview with Henri Alekan, extract from TV show Secrets Professionnels - Tete a Tete, optional Phillip Glass opera soundtrack, stills gallery, film restoration demonstration, trailer and booklet including article by Jean Cocteau and (though curiously not in the Blu-ray version) Mme. Leprince de Beaumont's original story. By contrast, the BFI's DVD only includes the Frayling commentary, Screening at the Majestic documentary and stills gallery. Do bear in mind, however, that Criterion's Blu-ray is Region A-locked.
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