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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast (1946) d. Jean Cocteau

Josette Day as Belle in the Jean Cocteau version of Beauty and the Beast (1946)

Movie Review:
 Beauty and the Beast (1946)
d. Jean Cocteau
Criterion Collection #6

  Yeahhh... who I told I was watching this movie both thought I was talking about the Disney piece of s***.  Anything sadder then the co-option by Disney of our public domain fairy tales?  Sad but true.  The Disneyfication of the fairy tale obscures the different origination of fairy tales in their "moden" form.  Of course, the main vehicle has been the seminal work of the Brothers Grimm, but there is also a solid French contribution.  The modern version of Beauty and the Beast has an actual author,  Mme. Leprince de

Jean Marais as the Beast in Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast (1946)

  Jean Cocteau is another director who I know I should have watched but have not because of not having access to the Criterion Collection, but now I'm on the road to correcting that- Cocteau has four films in the Criterion Collection: The Blood of a Poet, Orpheus, Testament of Orpheus and this one.

Jean Marais as the Beast in Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast (1946)

  This edition of Beauty and the Beast was of course superb, particularly the quality of the film restoration and the "uncompressed" score by George Auric- both aspects of the release brought Beauty and the Beast to life and made watching it a pleasurable experience.

Striking exterior wall with stone deer on top from Beauty and the Beast directed by Jean Cocteau

   I spent plenty of time in college and afterwards watching scratchy VHS copies of non-restored classics, spent time in law school and after watching scratched up non-restored DVD's of classics and earlier in this decade, before Netflix lost the Criterion Collection to Hulu Plus, I would get their scratchy copies of the Criterion Collection movies- but they would always skip and not come with the bonus features.  Honestly, the streaming function of Hulu Plus vis a vis the Criterion Collection is literally the greatest breakthrough in a decade.

  Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast is a world with real suffering intermixed with dreamlike/surreal qualities.  It's quite a package for 1946 and easy to see why the Criterion Collection would release it in the first ten releases of the Collection.

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