Film Review: Shining Restoration of Jean Cocteau’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’

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Average: 5 (2 votes)

CHICAGO – One of the legendary films in cinema history is Jean Cocteau’s “La Belle et La Bete,” also known to generations as “Beauty and the Beast.” The restored re-release is touring the country, and in Chicago it’s currently at the Gene Siskel Film Center, and Patrick McDonald of will lead a discussion of the film there on Monday, April 11, 2016. Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

The story is adapted from a traditional fairy tale, but in Cocteau’s hand is more adult-like, even more so than the sophisticated Disney animated version. The “Beauty” is about sexual blossoming, and the “Beast” is willing to accommodate, but first some trials must be had. What makes the film so unusual is the palette on which this multi-textured story takes place, an expressly creative landscape of dreams, with a production design (by Christian Bérard and Lucien Carré) that uses every inch of the ‘Academy Aspect” – the old square screen view rather than the widescreen. The film proves that inventing an atmosphere of pure imagination is not limited to our modern computer generated variations.

There is a funny girl named Belle (Josette Day), who through her rank as the youngest daughter takes care of her older sisters Adelaine (Nane Germon) and Felicie (Mila Parély), her father (Marcel André) and brother Ludovic (Michel Auclair). Fortune has come upon the family in the form of a shipping investment, but through some shady financial deal from Belle’s siblings, their father loses the bounty through moneylenders.

Downtrodden, the father gets lost on the way home from his lost fortunes, and ends up in a strange castle in the woods. He steals but a rose from it, which makes The Beast (Jean Marais) appear. He threatens death to the man, but will settle for a daughter in exchange. Belle goes to live with the creature, and her adventures as his guest will determine the fates for all involved.

Join me on Monday, April 11th, 2016 – beginning at 6pm – to discuss the film at the Siskel Film Center “Movie Club.” The price of an admission includes a complimentary beverage afterward and a back-and-forth discussion on the symbols and dreamscape of the magnificent “Beauty and the Beast.”

“Beauty and the Beast” will be screened by the Gene Siskel Film Center – 164 North State Street, Chicago – through April 13th, 2016. Featuring Jean Marais, Josette Day, Mila Parély, Nane Germon and Marcel André. Screenplay adapted by Jean Cocteau. Directed by Jean Cocteau. Not Rated.

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Beauty and the Beast”

Jean Marais, Josette Day
The Beast (Jean Marais) and Belle (Josette Day) in ‘Beauty and the Beast’
Photo credit: Janus Films

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Beauty and the Beast”

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