Beauty and the Beast (1946)

beauty and the beast 1946 poster belle et la bete
9.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great all-ages classic fairy tale

Language barrier for younger children, black & white might turn off some kids

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bête)

Studio:  Lopter Pictures

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Romance/Family

Release Date(s):  October 29, 1946

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

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Beast, if I give you a ball of yarn, you’d go to town!

Belle (Josette Day) is forced to go live with a beast (Jean Marais) when her father plucks a rose from his bushes.  As Belle lives with the beast she learns to love him, and the beast begins to change as well.  Will Belle be able to admit her love for the beast before her jealous sisters, brother, and suitor destroy her new life?

Beauty and the Beast (or the original French title La Belle et la Bête) was directed by famed French director Jean Cocteau.  The movie adapts the popular fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont which was published in 1757.   It was herald as a fantasy masterpiece and has been released by Criterion in a nice clean copy (Criterion #6).

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Let’s give our guest a hand!

The movie looks fantastic.  The beast’s design in still pictures looks ridiculous but works much better on film than I expected.  The beast’s look fits in great with a film that has a surreal fairy tale like style of shooting.  The open of the film has a statement about what children believe and an almost school-like set up with the credits written on a chalkboard, intentionally breaking the fourth wall before plunging the viewers into the fairy tale.  A short set-up that introduces the characters quickly leads into Belle’s father being lost and presenting a great magical palace that the beast inhabits full of enchanted (and creepy) statues.  The special effects remain quite strong the visuals are nice.  The story even has a very ethereal ending that literally has Belle and her new love lifting into the air.

For the most part, the story is very faithful to the original story.  It does introduce Belle’s brother’s friend Avenant (also played by Jean Marais) who Belle finds attractive.  Convienantly enough, the beast is transformed into Avenant when Avenant is transformed into the beast for trying to steal his treasure.  It was kind of an unnecessary change, but the movie seems to work in spite of this minor change.

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Is it the fur or my bright eyes you like Belle?

The altering of the story is unnecessary because the movie already feels like a real fairy tale without all the extra magic at the end.  It is a great fantasy for children and adults.  It is in French in its natural language so young children might not be able to follow the story, which is unfortunate since it is a great fantasy.  It might also be too “old” for children since it is black & white, and that is a also a shame since it is a nice all-ages film.

Beauty and the Beast is a good movie that looks great for its age.  The strength of the short fairy tale holds the movie and Cocteau’s nice visuals make it unique.  If you’ve only seen the Disney version (which deviates hugely from the story), you should check out this film to get a more official version of the story.  No, there are no talking clocks or candelabras…but the enchanted statues works just as well.

Related Links:

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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