Monday, October 15, 2018

Beauty and The Beast, 1946

Scarlet and I spent a truly surreal afternoon together.  Really.  Though he denied any connection to the movement, Jean Cocteau appears in every scholarly explication of surrealism that I found this evening.  He inspired it, he created it, he reveled in it - whatever he called it.  And today, celebrating European Art Cinema Day, Scarlet and I joined him in fantasy, watching his black and white masterpiece, La Belle et La Bete.

The Loft's Program Director had much too much fun making fun of Disney's animated remake in his opening remarks.  I'm not sure as he is that Cocteau's candelabras, muscular men's arms protruding from the walls, moving with Beauty as she runs through their shadows, are any less creepy or amusing than 1991's dancing and singing torchiers. 

Yes, along with a magic mirror and a transporter-equipped, jewel encrusted, right hand glove, there were living body parts in usually inanimate objects.  We got used to the arms pretty quickly.  The statues with eyes that ogled brought giggles from the crowd; perhaps we are jaded, 70 some years later.  On some level, it was creepy.  Then, again, so are talking light fixtures. 

The subtitles called her Beauty, but the actors, speaking French, said Belle.  There was a square jawed suitor and a wastrel sidekick and the father and daughter loved each other very much, just like the story is supposed to be.  Cocteau threw in some annoying sisters, but coming from a Cinderella-driven childhood they didn't seem out of place to me  Their presence made it feel more like a fairy tale. 

And the audience reacted as if it were. We sighed, we gasped, we smiled together.  Story time for grown-ups on a Sunday afternoon, with a good friend by my side.  Life is good.


  1. I am a Beauty and the Beast fan. I saw this one years ago as a video, which was back when we rented them and might've been VHS even. It was not my favorite as the Beast was more attractive to me than the Prince he turned back into lol

    1. So did we!! The lecture told us that the star wanted a mask bc he was tired of being admired for his looks instead of his talent. When he appeared as a man, we laughed!


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