|There hasn't been a
better filmed version of "Beauty & the Beast" either before or
since this film. ((I know Disney did a film with the same title, but it
wasn't the real story.))
Most people ought to know the story -- the well-to-do merchant who
loses everything, his one last chance to recoup that falls through, the
journey through the spooky forest that leads to the magic castle, the
rose the merchant picks for his daughter, the angry Beast who demands
the merchant's life, Beauty's return to the Beast's castle in her
father's place, ... and so on.
But you really don't KNOW the story till you see this film and let
Cocteau make it clear for you.
Done on an obviously shoe-string budget, brilliantly applied, with
camera-work and incredibly simple but effective "special effects" that
truly enhance the story without calling undo attention to their own
cleverness, with beautiful costume and makeup designs adding even more,
this film is simply a visual treat. (An example of the
simple-but-effective effects is Beauty's return to her father's home --
the actress stepped backward through a paper "wall"... and they ran the
[This film is/was good enough that when the cable "Faerie Tale Theatre"
series did "B&B", they basically did a 60-minute remake in color of
this film, including most of the visual touches, especially the Beast's
Beautiful, dreamlike and entrancing.
(Additionally, for further appreciation of the nuances of the story,
one perhaps should read Robin McKinley's two retellings, "Beauty" and "Rose
Daughter" - read "Beauty" first, or if you only read one, make it