Sunday, February 2, 2014

Beauty and the Beast

Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont's fairy tale, which tells of a beautiful, kindhearted commoner (Josette Day) trading places with her imprisoned father held in an enchanted castle inhabited by a cursed, brutish creature (Jean Marais), was given a magical, bizarre, and overtly sexual interpretation by Jean Cocteau is his classic film. Following a few pedantic opening passages, which also feature Marais, here playing the cruel Avenant who also seeks Belle's hand, as soon as our heroine arrives at the Beast's fortress the picture takes on an otherworldly quality marked by enigmatic, seemingly inexplicable special effects that capture the imagination and put modern movies to shame.