French Contributions Behind the Camera*

†††††††† Of the films studied in this course, I feel the most contributions come from the film La Belle et la BÍte, directed in 1946 by Jean Cocteau. This movie was truly ahead of its time regarding aspects of cinematography, make-up, set design, and special effects.

†††††††† The film is based on the story of Beauty and the Beast. It adds a subplot to contribute a bit more depth to the story, but overall is quite similar to the original. The most impressive aspects of the film occur when the girl finds herself at the beastís castle. Here we see how even Disney was influenced by the style of this film.

†††††††† There are a lot of odd camera angles used during the film. Use of point-of-view and other similar angles show the beast watching the girl without showing his face until later. This, of course, creates suspense with the audience and is a technique still used today in many films in the horror genre. Also, something must be said of the ďartisticĒ methods used in the cinematography. The scenes that use no background at all are very elegant and deserve mentioning for their outstanding grace.

†††††††† The make-up in the film is also very impressive. The beastís make-up is similar to that of Lon Chaney, Jr., as the Wolfman, which was actually released around the same time. The film also uses similar transformation techniques used in the Wolfman. For the time period, it is very well done.

†††††††† The lighting, sets, props, and costumes are all time period and very precise. The beastís costume is very luxurious and impressive. The castle is very well made and the effects used to create the moving faces in the walls are outstanding for this time period.

†††††††† There have been many films released after this one that have used similar techniques to achieve such outstanding works. I believe La Belle et la BÍte had a great impact on how directors have gone about working their cameras.

Brant Veal

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