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.