When watching Jean Cocteau's Le Belle et la Bete one of the first things that you notice is the similarity between the film and, rather then beauty and the beast, as you would expect, it reminds most viewers of Cinderella. With the two 'beautiful' sisters who have fancy gowns, expensive jewellery and think very highly of themselves. Whereas on the other hand there is the third, less fortunate sister, Bella, who has to clean the house, scrub the floors. As said by John Sunier "escapes a Cinderella-like situation in which her mean older sisters have made her their servant in the house." (John Sunier 2011). From this though it gives us a sense of Bella's innocence from the way in which she carries out all of these tedious chores but still keeps a simile on her face and never complains. Compared to her two sisters who can moan about the smallest of things. We have seen this scenario throughout many different films to date, which gives watching La Belle et la Bete an almost nostalgic feel and familiarity.
Although that being said it doesn't take long to get into the classic Beauty and the Beast storyline. We first see the recognisable features that you can recognise from the story that we all know. We first see this when Bella's father gets lost when travelling home. He stumbles across the Beasts house and we enter a magical world where the doors open themselves, the candles light themselves with hands holding them that move for the directional light. Statues are alive and their eyes would follow the characters, you are drawn into a wonderful world of magic and also have a sense of eeriness. This is the first time we see anything unworldly and magical in this otherwise so far realistic story. We can see this point backed up from critic reviews, "The Beast's dwelling is one of the strangest ever put on film--Xanadu crossed with Dali. Its entrance hall is lined with candelabra held by living human arms that extend from the walls."(Roger Ebert 1999).
For its time and the struggle of production for the time, being in France just after the second world war, this film should be one to be looked back on as one of the most influential films. The plot being recycled to this day and the special effects used to create the Beast's magnificent magical castle. Not only that but the make up used to create the Beast, as primitive as it looks in modern time, was a feat at the time of production and took 5 hours a day to complete. As said by John Sunier " detailed and original Beast makeup for Jean Marais, which took five hours to put on each day." (John Sunier 2011)
Sunier, J. July 17, 2011 Beauty and the Beast, Audiophile Audition
Ebert, R. December 26 1999 Beauty and the Beast, RodgerEbert.com
Fig 1 - La Bella et la Bete Film poster.
Fig 2 - Bellas father in the Beasts house.
Fig 3 - Bella and the Beast.