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La Belle et la Bête (Blu-ray)
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La Belle et la Bête (Blu-ray)
Directed by Jean Cocteau
La Belle et la bête is a landmark feat of cinematic fantasy in which master filmmaker Jean Cocteau conjures spectacular visions of enchantment, desire and death that have never been equalled.
Josette Day is luminous yet feisty as Beauty, and Jean Marais gives one of his best performances as the Beast, at once brutal and gentle, rapacious and vulnerable, shamed and repelled by his own bloodlust. Henri Alekan's subtle black and white cinematography combine with Christian Bérard's masterly costumes and set designs to create a magical piece of cinema, a children's fairy tale refashioned into a stylised and highly sophisticated dream.
The BFI is proud to present this world cinema classic in High Definition for the first time in the UK.
- High Definition transfer from the 4K restoration of the film which was premiered at Cannes
- Audio commentary with cultural historian Sir Christopher Frayling
- Dreams of Cocteau: The adventure of Beauty and the Beast (2013, 49 mins): documentary featuring interviews with author Dominique Marny, Prof. David Gullentops, Serge Toubiana, and Ellen Schafer
- Deleted scene and alternate audio clips (7 mins)
- Christian Bérard's and Jean Cocteau, two magicians (2013, 27 mins): documentary film focusing on the production history of La Belle et la Bête
- Fully illustrated booklet with new writing on the film, and full film credits
1946 | black & white | 94 minutes | 1 x BD50 / Region B | Cert PG
'One of the most spellbinding fairy tales in all cinema' --The Times
'Absolute magic, diamond cold and lunar bright' --The Observer
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Just after the war, Cocteau, a multidisciplinary artist with the talent to match his ambitions, produced this film. The special effects are limited, but imagination and a painter's eye render frames like surrealist masterpieces. Throughout there is a disconcerting air, the Beast's lair is staffed by body-less arms, coming out of walls, tables, he literally smoulders with distress, and wistfully eyes up potential prey.
Even the scenes outwith the castle are memorable and distinctive.
But the film is really about the two leads, and how they fall in love. The beast is well beyond flawed and quirky, he is not even human, but as he says, he has a gentle heart, and the viewer comes to love him for it.
In common with just about everyone else that has seen the film, I would confess that the last five minutes are a big disappointment, after coming to accept the Beast as the magnificent creature he is, seeing him transformed into a foppish version of Liberace leaves us crestfallen.
This version comes with a decent sized explanatory leaflet, the subtitles worked straight out of the box and image and sound quality were fine. I watched the film with my whole family, including teenage daughters, and it caught and retained the interest of everyone. It is one of those films that having seen, you just want everyone else to enjoy it too. Highly recommended.
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