Beauty and the Beast (1946)

The sets, the surrealism, the lighting, the makeup, the effects, and the performances–all combine to deliver a viewing experience that, if not completely timeless, still holds a remarkable power to enchant, and, truly, what more can one ask from a fairy tale than that? It is enough. And yet there is more, some of it surprising, as is the not insubstantial amount of humor in the film, and some not so surprising, such as the overt symbology of sexual fantasy and themes of exposure, transformation, and the nature of the self. These elements, and no doubt a good many more, combine to result in a film capable of rewarding repeat viewings. For myself, I have seen it twice and am tempted to watch it once more to pay particular attention to the many images of watching and being watched that occur throughout the film, both among the characters–principally the beauty and the beast–and as seen through reflections and the shifting eyes that protrude, quite literally, from the background.

 Extra Thoughts I Couldn’t Fit In and Links:

1. My favorite quote:

La Bete: “You stroke me like an animal!”

Belle: “But you are an animal.”

2. Can there be any more perfect way to express a desire to be whisked away than, “Go where I am going, Magnificent. Va! Va! Va!” Beats the heck out of, “There’s no place like home,” if you ask me.

3. It’s impossible to watch this movie without thinking it must have been the inspiration for (if not first appearance of) Thing from the Addams Family!

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One thought on “Beauty and the Beast (1946)

  1. Had to add this via a comment as I think it's brilliant. It is taken from an essay that can be found here: http://www.criterion.com/current/posts/1928-beauty-and-the-beast-dark-magic.

    “When the Beast tells her, “You are the only master here,” he underscores the cruelty at the heart of Cocteau’s fable. Beauty is indeed the master of all the craftsmanlike skills brought to their highest pitch to realize this singular vision: a Beauty who may offer love or capriciously withhold it, a Beauty who wants only a rose—even if that rose may threaten death to anyone who gives it to her—a Beauty who may, after all, know herself least well and therefore never fully grasp her own all-determining power. Only in the mirror world of art can Beauty and Beast truly cohabit. And even for Cocteau, master of such a range of arts, what art but cinema—the magic mirror itself—could ever realize that cohabitation so persuasively?”

    Like

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