La Belle et la BÍte: Not Your Childhood Beauty and the Beast

†††††††† When compared to the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast, released in 1991, La Belle et la BÍte, directed by Jean Cocteau in 1946, is not you childrenís Beauty and the Beast. There are many child-like characteristics in the animated version while Cocteauís version is much more grown up with aspects a child could not understand, appreciate, or would simply make a child terrified.

†††††††† In the Disney version, the beast, whose voice was done by Robby Benson, was friendly and not intimidating in the least. The beast in La Belle et la BÍte, played by Jean Marais, however, was very terrifying with his lion-like costume, which was not attractive, and booming voice. The beast is also fearsome when smokes after he kills something, which would very likely frighten some young children. While none of these examples are bothersome to adults, if a child watched the film, it could possibly even give them nightmares.

†††††††† The dresses for Belle, played by Josette Day, in the French version, which she wears in the beastís castle, are spectacular, but a child simply could not fully appreciate the work that goes into such a costume. The dress was a magnificent white gown that appeared to have amazing workmanship. Many children, and many adults, would not understand the workmanship of dress if they did not have knowledge of sewing. In the Disney version, however, most of the dresses that are shown are modified peasant clothes, with which children could identify which, in the Disney version, are really not peasant in appearance, and the yellow dress of Beauty that most of us remember. Even though the yellow gown is pretty except for it being yellow. Also, there was no purpose for making the animated dress look spectacular, like the one worn by Belle in the French version, because children would not appreciate it.

†††††††† Another striking difference in the movies is the manner in which each castle is made magical. In the original version, there are no happily dancing teacups or talking candleholders, but a castle that is more eerie. While the Disney version is cute, the arms holding the candelabras that light as one passes, the faces that watch everything that goes on, and the doors that open whenever somebody walks up to them, gives a feeling of always being watched.

†††††††† Obviously made for two different audiences, the Disney version is definitely for children and the French version for more mature audiences. The Disney version has the classic fairytale ending with everybody happy. The French version, however, while still including a fairytale ending, with her falling in love with the beast despite his lack of handsomeness, is really for more mature audiences since it deals with more complex situations. When Avenant falls into the shrine holding the beastís fortune and dies and the same actor comes back as the prince who is going to take Belle away; this could greatly confuse children into thinking that the Beast was Avenant throughout the entire film. Whether or not people agree that the French version of La Belle et la BÍte is not for children, they would almost have to agree that there are many aspects of this film that are to illustrious for children too understand.

Ashley Wilson

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