La Belle et La Bête (Jean Cocteau, 1946)

Fr., 90 min.


La rose, le cheval
Le gant, le miroir
La clef


Wikipedia / IMDB

“In the castle we find a half-man/half-beast whose power comes from magic and whose magic comes from five elements: the mirror, the key, the rose, the horse, and the glove. For anyone who knows Cocteau, the mirror is the passageway, the entrance to the otherworld or the world of the transcendent. The rose, of course, is beauty itself. The key is method. The horse represents strength and determination and speed. The glove – I pondered this for a while – represents nobility, the true estate of the artist. So Cocteau is making an interesting statement here, which is that the artist is the embodiment of humanity’s nobility. He requires courage, strength, determination, a vision of transcendence and beauty and a method. But why is he, trapped in the castle? Because, as the Beast knows, only the look of love can save him. That’s the sixth element.

“The film is about the transformation of half-beast/half-human – which is what we are – to the state of the nobility of the artist, which the Beast becomes at the end. Arid the ending in which Beauty and Beast fly away to the kingdom becomes the final transformation of the artist. Before that moment, the Beast knows who he himself is, but he can’t be who he is. And isn’t that the very state we’re in when we’re trying to do our creative work? How do we become who we are? Any artist can attest to this problem.” – Philip Glass, who wrote an opera to accompany the film in 1995.






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