This ravishingly beautiful 4K restoration of Cocteau’s much loved Gothic fantasy premiered to huge acclaim at this year’s Cannes Classics.
With its enchanted castle featuring fantastic living statuary and Cocteau’s lover Jean Marais starring as a Beast who is at once brutal and gentle, rapacious and vulnerable, shamed and repelled by his own bloodlust, La Belle et la Bête remains a pinnacle of the cinematic Gothic imagination. As Marina Warner has written, ‘the film unfolds to a perfectly poised slow tempo in surreal settings that gain intensity from the fabulous decor and costumes, the glittering lighting and the many moments of magic effects.
The candle-lit shadow-play deepens the gothic atmosphere of the beast’s castle, harking back to early expressionist classics of the genre.’ This new restoration by SNC/Groupe M6 and the Cinémathèque Française uses the notes and reference prints made by cinematographer Henri Alekan for the 1995 restoration, as well as the diary kept by Cocteau during filming, which has provided valuable evidence of his ambitions for the look and sound of the film.
Certificate: PG Distributor: BFI Distribution
Dir. Jean Cocteau, René Clément, France, 1947, 93 min, French
Cast: Jean Marais, Josette Day, Mila Parély