A Poets fable, Jean Cocteau’s “La Belle et la Bete” (!946) shows how the artistic mind of a painter, sculptor and poet can use the medium of film to produce a surreal cinematic experience of a sexual fairy-tale fantasy.
“It is a fabric of gorgeous visual metaphors, of undulating movements and rhythmic pace, of hypnotic sounds and music, of casually congealing ideas”.
The Surrealism of the film was enhanced with the atmospheric effects such as fog/smoke, swirling curtains, and haunting furniture. Dreamlike images of Belle floating down corridors with no movement of her body (Fig. 01), Magical hands that serve as waiters and candle holders. “When bodies appear through walls or fly up into the air, it is almost as if Cocteau’s camera has miraculously recorded a dream”
Though perceived to be a beast, as the beauty gets to know his chivalrous side, her attitude changes from seeing him as a frightening monster to a more caring individual, though still adamant that she will never marry him. She seems to become the more dominant of the couple, the beast following her around like a lost puppy and even drinking from her hands and feeding him. (Fig. 02)