Film / Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bête) is a French film directed by Jean Cocteau, based on the fairytale "Beauty and the Beast". It's particularly noted for its visual design, which has influenced several subsequent versions of the story.

This retelling adds the character of Avenant, a villainous suitor who is beautiful on the outside and ugly on the inside, contrasting with the Beast who is ugly on the outside and beautiful on the inside. This version may or may not be the first to include this character, but it's certainly the codifier.

The film was originally released in France in 1946, and received its US debut in 1947.

You may have been looking for Beauty and the Beast, the Disney animated feature based on this fairy tale.

This film provides examples of:

  • Artistic Title: The opening credits appear written on a blackboard, then erased.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Avenant seems like a reasonable guy most of the time...but then he'll turn around and sucker punch his friend, hit a girl, or plan to commit murder and theft.
  • Dysfunctional Family: The paterfamilias is weak and despised by most of his children; two of the girls are stuck-up and cruel; the son is a feckless wastrel...and then there's Belle.
  • Extreme Doormat: Belle.
  • Fainting: Belle faints when she meets the Beast.
  • The Ingenue: Belle
  • Loose Lips: On visiting home, Belle immediately proceeds to spill information about the Beast's powers, riches, and complete trust in her to several people whose only interest is in exploiting all three.
  • Mind Screw: The ending.
  • Once Upon a Time/Opening Scroll:
    "Children believe what we tell them. They have complete faith in us. They believe that a rose plucked from a garden can plunge a family into conflict. They believe that the hands of a human beast will smoke when he slays a victim, and that this will cause the beast shame when a young maiden takes up residence in his home. They believe a thousand other simple things. I ask you a little of this childlike simplicity, and, to bring us luck, let me speak four truly magic words, childhood's 'Open Sesame': 'Once upon a time...'"-Jean Cocteau
  • Pivotal Wake-up: A version without the usual sinister connotations occurs during the Beast's transformation at the end.
  • Prince Charming Wannabe: Avenant.
  • Redubbing: Minimalist composer Philip Glass wrote an entire opera that is meant to replace the soundtrack of the film, with the singers providing the voices for the characters on screen. It's available as an extra on several editions of the DVD.
  • Rich Bitch: Felicity and Adelaide, the two sisters. Not even actually being poor changes their behavior any.
  • Touch of the Monster: Belle is carried back to her room after she faints.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Avenant slaps one of the sisters when she insults him.
  • Ugly Hero, Good-Looking Villain: The Beast and Avenant.