La belle et la bête (1946)

“La belle et la bête” (1946)

Fantasporto 2010


Filming the painting

It should always be an event to watch a Cocteau film. He was one of the good artists of the century. Also he was also too aware of that to be able to produce more important work, other than what he gave us. Like other true artists, he tried to swim on different waters, and experience different medium. That’s respectable, as it is will to bring a personal vision to all of them.

This is my first experience with his films. I recognize i was expecting more. That’s because i thought in the moment Cocteau would want to move into films, he would also question the medium, not only pour his visual sensitivity into it. After all this is a guy who was both a painter, and a writer. Isn’t that what some film masters do? To paint texts? But no, Jean kept himself away from thinking about what he might do with cinema as an art form. Instead he delivered us haunting images and incredibly imaginative sets. But not interesting cinema.

The good thing is the vision of the film. You can subtract any frame that presents a new corner of the sets, and it will be an interesting images. There is a very concept of a set (in the magical palace of the beast) that comes alive, that moves, that performs with characters. So we have literally human elements, people pretending to be parts of that set. arms that come out of the dark holding candlesticks, statues with rolling eyes, hands that come out of nowhere. There is a play entangling those human elements, the placement of lights (and most important darkness!, reminding chech black theater) and the human characters that discover the set, in the story. This play is great, as well as the photography. There is art there.

Not so much in the storytelling, and this is where things fade. I think this story, as it is, would still be acceptable for those days’ audiences. The Kane revolution was still going on, and the romantic mentality still persisted in people’s minds. Not today. It’s dull, it’s dated, it’s useless storytelling. Not a single spark, not catchy enough for us to follow it. It fades, and fades more compared to the magic of the sets.

The side pleasure of this is to think that we’re actually watching one of those sweet director-lovers connection. But here between two men, cocteau and marais, who not incidentally plays the beast and i suppose the beauty. The woman is incidental, necessary to the story.

My opinion: 3/5

This comment on IMDb


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