Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Space Oddities Film Review - La Belle et la Bête

La Belle et la Bête

La Belle et la Bete (The Beauty and the Beast) is a 1946 french adaptation of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. The production is notable for its set designs, particularly the fantastical design of the beast's castle. Roger Ebert states "The Beast's dwelling is one of the strangest ever put on film--Xanadu crossed with Dali. Its entrance hall is lined with candelabra held by living human arms that extend from the walls. The statues are alive, and their eyes follow the progress of the characters (are they captives of the Beast, imprisoned by spells?)" (Ebert, 1999).

 Ebert's quote highlights the strange nature of the palace; hands and arms used to hold the candles like etheral servants and statues whose faces come to life and watch the occupants of the palace as they go about their buisness. The castle is clearly not the stereotypical beasts lair but rather a more enchanted almost romantic place that feels as though it was once the edifice of nobility.

Figure 1
In figure 1 we can see the hands used to hold the candles in place on the walls and on the table.

The palace does not feel like the domain of some a monster, instead of it being some kind of dark, foreboding place the castle is well lit with big doors, stairs and ornament furnishings, it is clearly a palace for nobility. In figure 2 the beast carries the unconscious beauty through the castle amidst the romantic series of candles that litter the hallway.

Figure 2
The darkness is prevelant in Figure 2, the lighting is concentrated on the candles and the beast carrying beauty.

Michelle Aldredge examined the film and states "The film’s costumes and set designs were inspired by the illustrations and engravings of Gustave Doré (shown below), and the farmhouse scenes are an obvious nod to the paintings of Jan Vermeer. This sumptuous artwork is the perfect muse for Cocteau’s re-imagined fairy tale." (Aldredge, 2012). This is especially clear in the images by Gustave Dore, the very black and fantastical looking paintings look very similar to the films castle and help to portray a scene of darkness and unfamiliarty.
Figure 3
Figure 3 shows the maiden examining her surroundings or trying to escape from the enchanted castle.

Lola Landekic from the website "Art of the Title" writes "Cocteau, Clément, and their team succeeded in creating a cinematic jewel, one of those rare films that captures a true sense of enchantment." (Landekic, 2014), the film gives a great many magical elements and it is very clear in the production design and in the character of the beast himself who is a creature of fantasy.

Roger Ebert, 1999, great-movie-beauty-and-the-beast-1946 [ONLINE], Available at: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-beauty-and-the-beast-1946 [Accessed 28th October 2014]

Michelle Aldrege, 2012, jean-cocteau-beauty-and-the-beast/ [ONLINE], Available at: http://www.gwarlingo.com/2012/jean-cocteau-beauty-and-the-beast/ [Accessed 28th October 2014]

Lola Landekic, 2014, la-belle-et-la-bete/ [ONLINE], Available at: http://www.artofthetitle.com/title/la-belle-et-la-bete/ [Accessed 5th November]

Illustration List
Figure 1
N/A, (1946), s1600/b%26b.father.table.jpg [ONLINE]. Available at: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_f9pvdIisA48/TENm31EJ2tI/AAAAAAAAA8g/cF3yxjjGwnU/s1600/b%26b.father.table.jpg [Accessed 28th October 2014]

Figure 2
N/A, (1946), 1-beauty-and-the-beast-1946-granger.jpg [ONLINE]. Available at: http://images.fineartamerica.com/images-medium-large/1-beauty-and-the-beast-1946-granger.jpg [Accessed 28th October 2014] 

Figure 3
Gustave Dore, (1695), jean-cocteau-beauty-and-the-beast/ [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.gwarlingo.com/2012/jean-cocteau-beauty-and-the-beast/ [Accessed 28th October 2014]

1 comment:

  1. Thoughtful review Max; now it is time to really start digging deeper. How, for example, did the production drawings of the fashion illustrator Christian Bérard, influence the final visual outcome? Was this film influential to more contemporary films?

    On a technical note, don't centre your text as it makes it read like verse, rather than prose :) Don't forget to italicise your quotes, and in the bibliography, your names should be listed alphabetically by surname, so
    Aldrege, M.
    Ebert, R.
    Landekic, L.

    You also seem to have a few different font sizes going on here...make sure you proofread before you post :)