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Beauty and the Beast / La Belle et la Bête

Beauty and the Beast title card

Year - 1946
Studio - CLT-UFA International
Stars - Jean Marais, Josette Day, Mila Parély, Nane German, Michael Auclair, Raoul Marco, Marcel André
Director - Jean Cocteau
Writing Credits - Jean Cocteau (screenplay), Mm. Leprince de Beaumont (story)
Music - Georges Auric


Belle (Josette Day) lives with her father, (Marcel André), her unscrupulous brother Ludovic (Michel Auclair) and two self-centered sisters, Félicie (Mila Parély) and Adélaïde (Nane Germon). Ludovic's companion is Avenant, who loves Belle, but she finds him rootless. The proud family is in danger of losing their possessions because of the father's failing business.

As he returns from business travel, he becomes lost in the forest and finds himself at a strange, gothic mansion, where doors open and close by themselves and disembodied arms hold candelabras. As he picks a rose to take to his Belle, the owner appears, the Beast (Jean Marais), a large, magnificently clothed figure, with a fur covered body and wolf-like face. He roars that the penalty for stealing the rose is death, unless the father has a daughter to take his place with the Beast. The frightened father agrees to send one of his daughters, and the Beast provides him with a white stallion that will magically take him home.

Beauty and the Beast poster

Belle, despondent over her life and relationship with her sisters, agrees to return to the Beast's home on the white horse. She is repulsed by the sight of the Beast who, nevertheless, asks her to marry him. Although she refuses, she eventually finds herself looking forward to their nightly visits, spending the rest of her days wandering throughout the castle and its grounds.

After some time, Belle begs to be given the opportunity to see her father again. The Beast finally consents, with the understanding she must return after one week. He entrusts to her all his secrets, including a golden key leading to his treasure, and his glove, which will transport her wherever she wishes. He explains that her failure to return will mean his death.

Belle visits her family and now-ailing father, and reluctantly makes the decision that she will not go back to the Beast. Her sisters steal the golden key for Ludovic and Avenant to steal the Beast's treasure, and they travel there on the white horse.

When Belle becomes aware of this, she uses the glove to return to the Beast, who lies dying. At the same time, Ludovic lowers Avenant into the Beasts treasure chamber, but a statue of Diana comes to life and shoots an arrow into Avenant's back. As he dies, he transforms into a Beast —and, with Belle holding him in her arms, the Beast, released from his curse, becomes Avenant. Belle confesses her love for him.

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Beauty and the Beast has been presented many times on film, television and stage. Some of the most notable productions include Disney's animated film and stage musical, a television series starring Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton, a TV movie starring George C. Scott and Trish van Devere, and a French-German film, starring Vincent Cassel and Léa Seydoux.