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Beauty and the Beast (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

Josette Day , Jean Marais    Unrated   Blu-ray
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
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Product Description


This is definitely not the Disney version. While it remains faithful to the plot of the classic fairy tale by Leprince de Beaumont, Jean Cocteau's 1946 French romantic fantasy is the product of a sophisticated, mature sensibility in its tones and textures and, above all, in its surprising emotional power. With sparkling black-and-white imagery that, for once, is actually dreamlike rather than cute or kitschy, and with a Beast (Jean Marais) who is almost as glamorous with his silky blonde facial hair as he is clean shaven, the movie casts a seductive spell. It might actually be a little too rich and unsettling for kids. Even the costumes and the draperies are entrancingly ornate. Viewers intoxicated by this enveloping vision should consider moving on to Cocteau's even more aggressively other-worldly 1949 masterpiece Orpheus, in which Marais plays the doomed poet of ancient Greek legend, updated to a Parisian "punk" milieu of motorcycles and black leather. --David Chute

Product Description

The sublime adaptation by Jean Cocteau (Orpheus) of Mme. Leprince de Beaumont’s fairy-tale masterpiece—in which the true love of a beautiful girl melts the heart of a feral but gentle beast—is a landmark feat of motion picture fantasy, with unforgettably romantic performances by Jean Marais (Orpheus) and Josette Day (Les parents terribles). The spectacular visions of enchantment, desire, and death in Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bête) have become timeless icons of cinematic wonder.

• High-definition digital transfer from restored film elements, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
• Composer Philip Glass’s opera La Belle et la Bête, presented in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio as an alternate soundtrack
• Two commentaries: one by film historian Arthur Knight and one by writer and cultural historian Sir Christopher Frayling
• Screening at the Majestic, a 1995 documentary featuring interviews with cast and crew
• Interview with cinematographer Henri Alekan
• Rare behind-the-scenes photos and publicity stills
• Film restoration demonstration
• Original trailer, directed and narrated by director Jean Cocteau, plus restoration trailer from 1995
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Geoffrey O’Brien, a piece on the film by Cocteau, excerpts from Francis Steegmuller’s 1970 book Cocteau: A Biography, and an introduction to Glass’s opera by the composer

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars The Beauty and The Beast Oct. 9 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I would have liked it much better if they followed the story line in a more traditional manner.
It was also not clear to me that the movie was in French. This should be stated much more clearly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars jean cocteau's masterpiece! March 29 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
eatherreal is the right word to describe this film. not exactly the innocent disney version of the story here. absolutely a must for all classic movie buffs. the costumes alone are a knock out.
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By Jamie MacDougall TOP 500 REVIEWER
In French director Jean Cocteau’s 1946 adaptation of the classic fairy tale, Belle’s father is sentenced to death for picking a rose from the Beast’s garden. When Belle goes to his castle in her father’s place, the Beast falls in love with her.

Without a doubt, La Belle et la Bete is one of the most enchanting fairy tales ever put to celluloid. You will be transported to a world of beauty and darkness that’s filled with a dreamlike quality that few films can rival. The movie’s special effects, groundbreaking makeup, soundtrack, cinematography, and the passionate performances by lead actors Jean Marais and Josette Day are all exceptional. It is without a doubt one of my favorite films of all time.

As usual, Criterion does not disappoint with it’s stunning video & audio presentation of this timeless classic that also includes an extensive package of special features. Included are a beautiful illustrated booklet (32 pages), two audio commentaries (one by film historian Arthur Knight and one by writer Sir Christopher Frayling), an alternate soundtrack of Philip Glass’ opera, a photo gallery, four featurettes (totaling about 50 min) and the film’s original French trailer. Very impressive!

Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bete has never looked better than it does on this breathtaking Blu-ray release from Criterion. With a wonderful collection of special features and a film that is pure cinema magic, do yourself a favor and pick up this masterpiece. It belongs in every movie fan’s collection and easily earns my highest recommendation!
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By bernie TOP 50 REVIEWER
Belle's father (Marcel Andr') has to go to town for business. He asks Belle (Josette Day) what she would like him to bring her. A Rose as there are no roses at home. On his way back from the city he must go through a mysterious forest in the evening. He stumbles upon an enchanted abode. There he is offered food and drink. On his exit the next morning he pilfers a prize rose to fulfill his daughters wish. Now he is confronted by the home owner La B'te (Jean Marais). For his indiscretion he is given the choice of giving up his life or that of his daughter. He returns home to tell the tale.

The story first written by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont is adapted by Jean Cocteau to film, also directed by Jean Cocteau.

I could explain the great visual effects and dialog chooses. But it is much better described by the voice over track on the Criterion version. You will be enchanted by this version an will come to make this your favorite.
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5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT STUFF April 7 2004
By A Customer
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5.0 out of 5 stars PAINTING WITH BLACK AND WHITE AND SILVER Feb. 25 2004
By JohnK
Cocteau's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST will leave an impression on those who are about to see it for the first time. Anyone who has seen it already will be able to recount multiple favorite images and delight in expounding upon them. Film in the hands of some people seems to become more malleable. Cocteau is one such weaver of images whose fantasy world is at the same time childlike and foreboding - innocent as a puppet theatre ,then dark as sin.
The film mixes fantasy and reality by presenting time spent in the ordinary world in straightforward, unambiguous scenes and juxtaposing these with theatre-like sequences that represent the parallel world of enchantment. Surreal set pieces, mists and blackness define the borders of the Beasts domain.
From the Beasts smoking hands after the kill to the living arm sconces and the couples flight in the end, simple effects seem to gain impact from the bare uncomplicated nature of them thrust out into view like magic tricks.
Composed like paintings the rich imagery conspires with stellar black and white photography
to produce a seeming mid range of silver smoke and shimmering highlights.
Anyone into or discovering film should acquaint themselves with this highly original sence of cinema that has lured admierers for almost six decades.
This adaptation of a fairytale will be best understood by adults but should be shared with children as well.
Small children will be uneasy in the presence of the Beast who looks a far cry from a cartoon character. Also, someone older will have to read the subtitles to them but in a darkened room that might make it even more effective as a fairy tale experience.
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The 1947 French Cocteau classic, "La Belle Et La Bete" (Beauty and the Beast)was revolutionary in its day and on this new DVD, we get all the scoop on the making of this film and the masterpiece of French cinema. There is commentary by cultural historians and film critics, insight from the director, cinematographer and the cast and even more impressive, the opera by Phillip Glass, which he modeled after this same film. The film stars Josette Day as Belle and a costumed and frightening Jean Marais as the Beast. This film was released when World War II still weighed on people's shoulders. The French cinema was taking the film world by storm. It would be only one of many Cocteau films, though most assuredly his best work. The most impressive aspect of this film is its special effects and cinematography. Cocteau infused the film with surrealism and magic, enhanced by special effects which were new at the time, though tame and old-fashioned by today's standards. Before the digital, computer-generated image, there was "camera tricks". Cocteau was wise to make a film set to an enchanted fairy tale. He was able to make the bewitched castle seem alive. There is a prevailing eerie mood. Gargoyle, stone statuary, noctunal moods, voices, talking mirrors and doors, doors which open and close on their own and dimly lit candelabrum made the interior of the Beasts castle supremely Gothic and sensational.
As far as the acting goes, the cast does a good job at deliviring a good performance eventhough they are portraying fantasy characters. Josette Day is a beautiful and noble heroine as Belle and the Beast, monstrous in looks but gentle of spirit and kind hearted in a more human way. The story is more true to the original concept of Beauty and the Beast. This is not to be mistaken with the Disney 1991 animated film. There is very little cuteness and charm in this one. It's presented as a serious work of cinema. A must have for cinema students.
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