A Cat's Love Story

         The film, Beauty and the Beast, co-directed in 1946 by René Clément, along with playwright Jean Cocteau, was a very enjoyable film full of fantasy and enjoyment. It was Cocteau's most popular film. According to the textbook, both directors emerged during the German Occupation of France in the early 1940's.

        The subtitles in the film force the audience to focus their attention to the film more closely because, if one should glance away for a second, some of the dialogue would be missed. Nevertheless, it was enjoyable listening to the French being spoken in the film because it is a beautiful language.

        The camera angles shot looking down on the scenes were very effective, and so were the lighting effects with the use of shadows. The storm sounds and effects with the trees were very real. As Belle (Josette Day) enters the castle, the candelabras that were attached to arms of a human body gave the feeling of a haunted house and were an effective element in the scenes inside the castle. The effects of Belle coming through the walls later in the film when she used the Beast's glove were an added taste of the fantasy added to the film. Another touch of magic was the way the beast made Belle appear in the computer, and also when he made pearls appear in his hand.

        The film makers did an excellent job of the makeup in this film for the time period (1946). It is realistic enough to be convincing, plus the way they used his eyes and subtle facial movements made it even more believable. They also made the audience like the beast (Jean Marais) by showing the warm, kind side of him, and showed that it was a good fairy tale because the story developed into a friendship between Belle and the Beast. The director also showed how greedy and snobby Belle's sisters, Félicie and Adélaïde were, as played by Mila Parély and Nane Germon, and how Belle was so unlike them but ended up getting the finer things in life that her sisters yearned for day after day.

        The film began suggesting to the audience to have a child-like mind when watching Beauty and the Beast, and that is exactly the "once upon a time" words it implanted into the mind.

Susan Marinoff

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