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MovieDiva Film Series Presents
Beauty and the Beast
- Wed, Apr 26
The Walt Disney animated version of “Beauty and the Beast” was greatly influenced by this bewitching version of the fairy tale directed by Jean Cocteau, a Surrealist, a poet, playwright, novelist, artist, designer and filmmaker. Beauty and the Beast is not a traditional folktale, but was written in 1756 by Mme. Leprince de Beaumont. It’s an “animal bridegroom” story, like “The Frog Prince,” in which a young girl must exchange the secure love and protection of her father for an uncertain future with her husband. The young actor Jean Marais became Cocteau’s partner and muse in 1937, and it was he who suggested filming “Beauty and the Beast.” The Beast’s expressive make-up was modeled after Marais’ beloved dog, Moulouk and took five hours every day. “In my opinion,” wrote Cocteau, “one must have Marais’ passion for his work and devotion to his dog to persevere as he did in deserting the human race for the animal race.” After WWII, everything was in short supply and even collecting 12 white bed sheets without patches for the laundry scene was a struggle. There was small choice of fabrics and material for costumes and sets, yet the film appears to have been summoned from sheer enchantment. Children familiar with Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” will find Cocteau’s version in French relatively easy to follow, even with English subtitles. “La Belle et la Bête” has an intoxicatingly dreamlike atmosphere unlike any other cinematic fairy tale. “One of the most magical of all films” (Roger Ebert).