La Belle et la Bête

La Belle et la Bête

★★★★

Beauty and the Beast has always been my favourite fairy tale.  I remember going to see the Disney film at the cinema for a schoolmate’s seventh birthday.  As a bookish only child, I took that version deeply to heart and still love it to bits; but for pure cinematic fantasy and elegance, Jean Cocteau’s 1946 version is hard to beat.  Rich, sumptuous and stylised, it’s a feast for the eyes (and is best watched with a glass of wine and some chocolate truffles).  Cocteau begins by writing out the credits on a blackboard, followed by a handwritten text in which he makes it clear that we must suspend our disbelief and enjoy the story as children would.  He signs off with the words ‘Il était une fois [Once upon a time]...’

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