La Belle Et La Bete

La Belle Et La Bete

DVD Rating: ***

Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

Read Keith Hennessey Brown's film review of La Belle Et La Bete

Picture quality on this Region 2 DVD release from the BFI isn't great, with some print damage being visible in almost every frame. But - considering the age of the film, the conditions in which it was made and that this DVD is sourced from a recently restored print - chances are that this is as good as it's going to get short of better materials or restoration techniques arising.

Sound is there, but that's all you can really say about it.

Copy picture

The main extra is a full-length commentary track by Christopher Frayling. It's informative and wide-ranging, examining artistic and filmic influences on La Belle Et La Bete, interpretations of the film and the myth, and similarities and differerences between Cocteau's movie and Mme Leprince de Beaumont's source material.

While tidbits of trivia help lighten the tone, it does sometimes feel a bit too dry and constrained by the limitations of the talk-over format. When, for instance, Frayling is explaining how a particular set-up is modelled on Rembrandt's The Anatomy Lesson, you can't help feeling that seeing the painting there and then would help.

The other substantial extra - the 25 minute documentary, Screening At The Majestic - is a real gem, in which star Jean Marais and cinematographer Henri Alekan - both now dead - and others revisit some of the key locations used in the film and reminisce. Alekan, in particular, is a delight, explaining how he had to use three times the normal amount of lighting when photographing the Beast in order to bring out the detail in the make-up - under normal conditions, all the film stock picked up was a dark shape.

The other extras - assorted galleries amounting to ten pictures in total, filmmaker biographies and a web link - aren't up to much. But, then, they don't have to be.

Reviewed on: 20 Jan 2002
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La Belle Et La Bete packshot
Timeless classic that lives up to the label.
Amazon link

Product Code: BFIVD528

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.33:1

Sound: Dolby Digital

Extras: Commentary by Christopher Frayling; Documentary - Screening At The Majestic; Biographies/Filmographies; Image Galleries; Web Link


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