Movie Review: La Belle et La Bête (2014)



(Wikipedia)Beauty and the Beast (French: La Belle et la Bête) is a 1946 French romantic fantasy film adaptation of the traditional fairy tale of the same name, written by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont and published in 1757 as part of a fairy tale anthology (Le Magasin des Enfants, ou Dialogues entre une sage gouvernante et ses élèves, London 1757). Directed by French poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau, the film stars Josette Day as Belle and Jean Marais.

2014 Christophe Gans‘s version followed the French original fairy tale, and not so much the Disney’s animated version. Haven’t seen the original version made in 1946, but seen its poster many times, few in arts exhibition. This version should be similar to the 1946’s, which was also in French. It is part of the Criterion collections, so it must be one of the classics in the 20th century. It also means I should watch the 1946’s and contrast that with 2014’s…later.

For this reason and Léa Seydoux‘s Belle, I thought it would be a good idea to watch it during my long 15-hour flight. I foretell we will see more of Seydoux in both continents. In North America, you will remember Seydoux in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol(2011), and The Grand Budapest Hotel(2014). To confirm my premonition, she will be one of the Bond girls in the up-coming Sam Mendes‘s Bond 24(2015). Still doesn’t ring a bell, her one of the most talk-about films in 2014, Blue Is the Warmest Colorshould ring. Anyway, my point is she will be, if not already, one of the A-listets.

La Bête played by Vincent Cassel is no stranger either: Black Swan(2010); Trance(2013)

La Belle is really Cinderella. She has two wicked, and beauty-challenged sisters that treat Belle as their maid. The father (André Dussollier) was a rich merchant until his trading ship wrecked. The family is now poor and must move from their château to a run-down chalet in the woods. The family also has three sons, one of them is a gambler and owes the local thuds leader lots of money. They are after him and money to settle.

The father is on a trip and his horse runs away, and he ends up in the castle where la Bête hides. The castle is filled with food and jewelry, the father cannot help himself to both, especially no one seems to dwell in it. La Bête stops his father as he steals a rose from the garden… in his place Belle will stay as captive in the castle. Since this is a fairly tale, you already know the ending. The reason the prince turned into la Bête was different from the Disney’s version, the only one I know, but it made sense.

The CGI effects were quite good and appropriate, and it didn’t over shadowed the main act.

Two comments: Although Seydoux is one of the up-and-coming actors, she didn’t have that innocent, naïve emotion that I was looking for. Second, la Bête make-up could be a little bit more imaginative. Hate to say it, the 1946’s was more memorable, and was in B&W.

SKIP…just saw the English dubbed version, it probably will hit the theaters during Christmas. It really isn’t for kids though.



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