79 of 1001 Movies: Beauty and the Beast (1946)

If you’re going to watch a version of Beauty and the Beast done great then save the Disney one for later, and check out this one. It’s very artsy, and probably one of the most unique films from the 1940s that you will watch. The eerie setup mixed with fantasy just makes it beautiful Jean Cocteau just shows how brilliant his mind is by turning a classic story into something that the viewer can see with live action and believe.

Belle’s father is a merchant who is depending on the arrival of the ship so he can have money to help put himself back in good graces again. When he doesn’t receive the money though he has to head back home earlier than expected through the forest at night, and gets lost along the way winding up at an eerie castle where hands holding lamps light the hallways, and he is served a drink by an arm propped at a table. The Beast finds him though, and tells him that he must return with one of his daughters, or return himself to die. Of course, when he returns and Belle finds out she rushes off to the Beast to save his life, and ends up his captive. The Beast hopes she will want to be his wife though, but Belle isn’t very open to being bound to him in anyway.

What makes this film really awesome is the fact this director just did his own thing, and captured such a fairy tale with all his creative techniques he used, like the fog, great sets, costumes, and story. It isn’t necessarily the acting that is at the top despite the fact that it does well with adding to the setting, and atmosphere that the director has created.

One of the first things about the movie that is noticeable is the attention to the costumes they are lavish, and feel very Shakespearean. They have really great detail to them, and the Beast seems most extravagant of all. This story also seems a tad darker, and little less obsessed with love than what we may know of other ones. The Beast simply wants Belle to say she will be his wife. The nice thing is how their love grows more subtly. It isn’t in your face obvious, but something that grows until you fully realize it at the end despite the fact that Belle seems to have been in denial about it up till then.

Also, the favorite thing about the movie was just the fantasy surrounding it. Parts of it almost seemed like they could be spooky. The walls, and tables seem to be alive in this movie, and it’s just creepy, but also really cool. The movie doesn’t ever seem to really explain what this cursed place is though, and the ending can make it a tad more confusing. Also, the makeup for the Beast reminded me a lot of the Cowardly Lion from Wizard of Oz. It just may have been a popular way of doing makeup then. On top of that the soundtrack provides a really good sound to add to the atmosphere.

Beauty and the Beast is definitely one worth checking out. It’ll be hard to turn your head away while watching it. It’s oddly beautiful and creepy at the same time. For fans of fairy tales also it captures perfectly all those feelings you find in that genre. It’s sort of magical, and whimsical. There is just a lot of chemistry captured within in the film.

Rating 4 of 5.

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