Both movies are based on Jeanne-Marie LePrince de Beaumont timeless tale but Jean Cocteau’s version is easily the closest to original with it only veering from it for clearer storytelling and added magical wonderment while Disney’s version takes the premise of a girl named Belle, a beast and a magical curse and pretty much jettisons everything else. Though both thought the story could use a villain which de Beaumont’s story certainly lacked.
You just gotta have a good villain.
Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête 1946 version begins with Belle (Josette Day) as one of four children; she has two wicked sisters, Félicie (Mila Parély) and Adélaïde (Nane Germon) who seem like they stepped right out of Cinderella and Ludovic (Michel Auclair) her brother a bit of a wastrel who spends much of his time hanging out with his friend and fellow scoundrel Avenant (Jean Marais) who has made his designs on Belle clear. The family has fallen on hard times due to ships belonging to Belle’s father (Marcel André) being lost at sea, but word finally arrives that one of the ships has made it to port and so the family’s prospect may be on the rise.
Avenant, the unsolicited suitor.
At this point I’d be thinking, “That dark and foggy forest wasn’t so bad.”
The Beast even gives him a magic horse to carry him home.
Belle mounts the magical horse and rides to the castle of the Beast but instead of being killed and eaten she is made mistress of the house and any whim she has will be fulfilled. She is provided a lavish room with a magical mirror that allows her to see anything she wishes with the only stipulation being that every night at 7:00 she will dine with the Beast. Each night he joins her and on each night he asks, “Belle, will you marry me?” she of course declines the offer but slowly her feelings towards the horrible looking creature turns from fear to pity to a deep caring.
Stockholm syndrome, it even works in fairy tales.
She bids the Beast adieu, puts on the glove, is transported back home (she comes through the wall of her bedroom in a rather cool in camera affect) and then places the key and glove on her nightstand. Of course not all are glad of her return and upon seeing the bejeweled gown and tiara that Belle is sporting the sisters instantly start plotting against her and tricking her into staying past the allotted weeks’ time. They manage to steal the golden key but unfortunately the hiccup in their plans is that none of them know how to get to the Beast’s castle, but lucky for them the lonely Beast has grown despondent for his missing Belle and has sent the magical horse to retrieve her which her brother and Avenant confiscate.
He spent the week writing bad emo poetry.
Note: Jean Marias of course plays both the Beast and Avenant.
Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête is a stunningly beautiful film with its haunting black and white photography capturing the viewer’s imagination. From the spooky forest to the haunted halls of the castle, the look of the film never ceases to be anything but a perfect fairy tale come to life and a must see for fans of the Disney version. Which of course brings us to…
Disney had been trying to get an animated feature based on Beauty and the Beast since the 1930s only getting finally greenlit as a musical after the success of The Little Mermaid. As I mentioned before there are very few similarities between the original tale and this Disney version but in no way does that make it a bad adaptation, in fact I thoroughly enjoy this movie with its clean animated lines and catchy songs but it does have some structural flaws which are probably due to its many attempts and revisions over the years.
Standard Disney story book opening.
I’m pretty sure that constitutes entrapment.
I’m blaming Cogsworth.
“Look there she goes that girl is so peculiar.”
So yeah, screw those people, they suck and Belle should go live in a magical castle.
“Do I at least get a phone call?”
“Be our guest.”
The reason Maurice was out all alone looking for Belle is because all the jerks back in town laughed at his story about his daughter being imprisoned by a horrible beast. No one offered to help, instead they all get behind Gaston’s plan to commit Maurice to an insane asylum if she won’t marry him. When Belle uses the magic mirror to show the villagers that the Beast is real and her father isn’t crazy they go from being a group of assholes to a torch and pitchfork toting mob. Gaston is able to whip them up into frenzy, “We’re not safe ’til his head is mounted on my wall!” They all then storm the castle.
The torch market is certainly better than the book market in this town.
While the magical objects of the castle do their best to fend off the attacking villagers Gaston finds the very morose Beast and proceeds to hunt him across the castle rooftops. That the Beast went to pieces that fast shows that he was a more crumbly cookie centered than a hardened beast even to the point of not defending himself from Gaston’s attacks. Lucky for him then that Belle shows up in time to shake him out of his stupor. Now the movie clearly depicted Gaston as a more brains than brawn kind of guy but when after being soundly beaten by the Beast he decides to stabs his rival in the back from a very precarious position showing us that he was actually even dumber than we thought.
“This may have been a mistake.”
I think we can all agree he looked better as the Beast.
• The torn portrait of the Beast in human form was clearly not that of a ten year old boy.
• This is France but only one character has a French accent.
• The village book seller had a terrible business model as he lent and gave away books to his only apparent customer.
• How did Maurice’s horse take Belle to the Beast’s castle when it had never been there?
• After the big “Be Our Guest” number Belle is sent to bed without actually getting dinner.
• Why was Chip allowed to be out and about but his brothers and sisters are stuck in the cupboard?
• The library and ballroom were the only two rooms apparently not curse redecorated.
• When the villagers attack and the enchanted items do battle I have one final question…
..where the hell were these guys?
“And every last inch of me is covered with hair!”
I ask of you a little of this childlike simplicity, and, to bring us luck, let me speak four truly magic words, childhood’s open sesame: “Once upon a time…” – Jean Cocteau.