La Belle Et La Bête review

Eat your heart out, Disney! Newly restored for the 50th anniversary of Jean Cocteau’s death, the French polymath’s 1946 debut feature splices the fairytale’s childlike enchantment with grown-up subtexts like no other version.

There’s a furry Freudian undercurrent to the beast (Jean Marais) and his longing gaze at the sweet young woman (Josette Day) he entraps – while his redemption echoes his home country’s emergence from four-and-a-half years of Nazi occupation.

The simple and surreal effects bind the spell: by using the tangible magic of hands through walls, moving statues, steamy paws and the rest, Cocteau makes rapt believers of us all – adults and children alike.


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