As one of the most influential fantasy films of its times, and the crown jewel of surrealist filmmaker Jean Cocteau’s career, La belle et la Bête (or Beauty and the Beast for American audiences) is one of the most ethereal and otherworldly interpretations of childlike wonderment to ever make its way to the screen. Cocteau’s film reinvented the story of a hideous Beast who becomes enchanted by the maiden of a small French village, imbuing the character and myth with a great many personal characteristics that would find themselves eternally woven into the narrative and in every subsequent interpretation. Perhaps the most outstanding of these contributions is the Beast himself, a majestic realization of beauty and horror that eternally reflects the inner turmoil of his cursed character. The other indelible feature of Cocteau’s film is the personal stamp of his surrealist sensibilities. Infusing the film with his signature cinematic techniques, the realm of the Beast’s castle takes on a truly transcendent allure. La Belle et la Bête is one of the most magical movie experiences out there, embodying all the mystical properties these fairy tales impress onto us and translating it to our modern medium with eternal grace.
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