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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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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


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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PAINTING WITH BLACK AND WHITE AND SILVER Feb. 24 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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5.0 out of 5 stars "True Experience Must Be Unique." - Cocteau Feb. 8 2004
Beauty and the Beast is based on Madame de Beaumont's fairy tale with the same name, and Cocteau's adaptation is strikingly alike the original with a few exceptions. The story begins with Cocteau explaining himself in the beginning of the film with a small statement in regards to children and their naiveté and then the film opens as most fairy tales do with, "Once upon a time..." The father is raising one son, Ludovic, and three daughters, Felicie, Adelaide, and Belle (translated to Beauty) by himself. Felicie and Adelaide are the malicious daughters that openly expresses their greed, sloth, and envy as they hurt Belle. The son brings the family to the brink of poverty as he loses the family's furniture and valuables in a gambling debt. On the way home from attempting to settle the debt, the father gets lost in a storm and he finds what seems to be a deserted magical castle. In the morning when the father gets ready to leave the castle he finds a rose and remembers that Belle's wish was to receive a rose, however, the Beast appears and expresses his dislike for theft of the rose and tells him that he must pay with his life or the life of a daughter. When Belle finds out she caused her father this anguish she voluntarily gives herself to the Beast. Beauty and the Beast is a fairy tale that teaches lessons as stories should, and there are several lessons worth learning in this magnificent adaptation by Cocteau. The special effects in the film enhance the magic as Cocteau presents his vision of Madame de Beaumont's fairy tale. Overall, the supreme realism which is observed in the Beast's humanity is a major factor in the films influence of a brilliant cinematic experience. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars The Beauty and The Beast
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. Read more
Published 12 months ago by mariavicente
5.0 out of 5 stars jean cocteau's masterpiece!
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. Read more
Published 19 months ago by david salter
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most enchanting and magical films of all time.
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. Read more
Published on Oct. 21 2012 by Jamie MacDougall
5.0 out of 5 stars The beauty and the beast
Long before Disney ever got their grubby paws on it, Jean Cocteau made the ultimate adaptation of the classic French fairy tale "The Beauty and the Beast." And it was... Read more
Published on Aug. 25 2011 by E. A Solinas
5.0 out of 5 stars Beauty & the Beast
I saw this movie about fifty years ago for the first time and have been enchanted by it ever since. I recommend it to everyone who love old fairy tales.
Published on Aug. 20 2010 by Olga Smolik
5.0 out of 5 stars "Don't pat me like an animal." "But you are an animal!"
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. Read more
Published on July 1 2006 by bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT STUFF
Published on April 7 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Criterion collection film trashed by Disney
This was a great move for the Criterion Collection to rerelease a film and classic story that was ruined by the Disney version. Read more
Published on Feb. 24 2004 by Ted
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
This is a beautiful version of the "Beauty and the Beast" fairy tale. Cocteau creates a dreamlike world of fantasy and illusion. Read more
Published on Feb. 19 2004 by A. McGivney
5.0 out of 5 stars Charming
Sterling DVD release of a movie that only a heart of stone would dislike; certainly a must-have for Cocteau admirers.
Published on Feb. 4 2004 by C. Rubin
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