Film Review: La Bell et la Bete 1946

Fig 1 La Bell et la Bete poster

La Bell et la Bete (1946) also known as Beauty and the Beast, is a classic tale that we all know thanks to Disney.  But this is a little different to the tale we know.
Jean Cocteau's version of the story still creates and holds the magic of this story that we all know and is still able to give it that little twist.

Fig. 2. Beast and Bell
Cocteau's version of the story is not just a fairy tale, there is a deeper meaning behind it all. "...surrealistic poem which explored the complex emotions Cocteau felt, through flamboyant images rather than simple words, and how true beauty can be in the eye of the beholder.." ( Classic Art Films, 2015). As the writer explains, Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast is more of a surrealistic poem due to the elaborate detail within the film and makes the film appear to be dream like. If we look at the movements of the beast himself, he walks slow and stiff like, as if he is being controlled by someone. But his slow movements are expressive and capture the poetic and dream-like manner of the surroundings and the story.

Fig. 3. Bell 
Another example of these dream-like scenes is when we see Bell running through the beast's castle. Bell is shown running through the halls and rooms of the castle while in slow motion. This also creates the dream-like effect. While she is running, the scene feels very magical with music in the background and Bell looks like she is even gliding through the halls.

Fig 4. Beast and Bell at dinner 
Another interesting scene in this film would be the dinner scene where Bell first meets the Beast for dinner. The Beast approaches behind Bell silently, but senses his presence. "...begins to react in a way that some viewers have described as fright, although it is clearly orgasmic." (Ebert, 1992)  Bell  has never seen the beast before or anyone so different. And because he is this mysterious being, where no one knows of him or how dangerous he his, it 'turns her on'. The beast then goes on to to ask her if she would marry him. Bell replies with that she can't marry a beast, while holding a knife. The knife could represent her reply to the beast about the marriage proposal. That the rejection could piece like a knife.

Cocteau's set design for this film is also very aspiring but simplistic at the same time. He only has certain areas of hallways or certain rooms decorated what we first think is very elaborate furnishing, but once looking closer, they are actually human arms holding the objects. An example of this is in the entrance hallway, the arms are holding onto candle sticks and move as the character walks through. This type of set design is also going back to the point that it is all very surreal and dream like. If we also look at the production art for this film its once again very simple but they manage to capture this simplicity in the film.

Illustration list:

Figure 1: La Bell et la Bete Poster (1946) [Poster] At: (Accessed on 28.10.15)

Figure 2: Beast and Bell (1946) [film still] At: (Accessed on 14.11.15)

Figure 3: Bell (1946) [film still] At: (Accessed on 14.11.15)

Figure 4: Beast and bell at dinner (1946) [film still] At: (Accessed 17.11.15)


Classic Art (2015) Beauty and the Beast 1946 At: (Accessed on 03.11.15)

Ebert, R (1999) Beauty and the Beast At: (Accessed on the 3.11.15)


  1. Hi Hannah,
    As before, an interesting read... but please italicise all of your quotes!
    Also, be careful of your spellings - throughout, you have misspelt 'Belle' as 'Bell'; niggly point, I know, but it looks careless, especially when you have the poster there at the top with the correct spelling on it :)


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