The international film builds upon what students know about this classic tale while inviting them to learn more from this 1946 French adaptation.
“I have a good heart, but I am a monster,” said the Beast.
Belle looked up at him, calm and graceful.
“There are men far more monstrous than you, though they conceal it well,” said Belle.
On Friday, Michael Cornick shared the 1946 film La Belle et la Bête with BYU-Idaho. The black-and-white film, directed by Jean Cocteau, blends cinematography, lighting and storytelling elements to retell the famous story, Beauty and the Beast.
“Before the days of computer effects and modern creature makeup, here is a fantasy alive with trick shots and astonishing effects, giving us a Beast who is lonely like a man and misunderstood like an animal,” said Critic Roger Ebert according to Cornick.
Symbolism is integral to this French film. Rather than a cursed rose, there are three key items in this adaptation: A key, mirrors and gloves.
A golden key holds the entrance to the Beast’s greatest treasure and source of magic. He entrusts this to Belle. When the villain, Avenant, tries to break into the Beast’s treasury, he pays dearly for it. The treasury symbolizes his heart. The Beast entrusted the key to his heart to Belle.
Mirrors reflect both the desires and inner reality of the individual. When Belle’s wicked sisters look into the magic mirror, instead of seeing beautiful young women, they see a monkey and an old hag.
For Belle, however, her reflection never changes as she is always her true self.
“Belle, you weren’t made to be a servant,” said Avenant to Belle as she scrubbed the floorboards. “Even the floor longs to be your mirror!”
Gloves are the final symbol. The Beast’s hands smoke when he is affected by the animalistic nature of his curse. To civilize himself, he wears gloves to humanize himself and control the intention of his power.
“The film is poetic, surreal and dream-like. It truly gets to the depth of what we truly love about human beings — what we see inside of ourselves,” Cornick said.
Coupled with the powerful use of light and placement of shots, La Belle et la Bête is the escape that it was designed to be following the horrors of World War II.
“Besides being hideous, I’m not quick-witted,” the Beast said.
Belle shrugged, not phased by his appearance.
“You’re quick enough to recognize it,” Belle said.
The next movie presented will be the Russian film, The Island. Directed by Pavel Lungin, the tale follows Anatoli as he battles sin and sainthood in a Russian Orthodox Ministry.
It will be shown in the Jacob Spori Building, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m.