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Directed by Jean Cocteau

France 1946 96 mins.

A film of immense visual beauty and unparalleled imagination, Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast was the first of many adaptations of the 18th-century fairy tale, and a film that continued French cinema’s storied legacy in the years immediately following World War II. Josette Day stars as Belle, the trod-upon, earthy younger sister in a family full of primadonnas. Down on his luck one evening, Belle’s father stumbles upon an opulent castle, where he meets Beast (Jean Marais), a fabulously wealthy yet melancholic animal-man who longs for companionship. As Belle becomes embroiled in a tumultuous romance with Beast, her human beau Avenant stands in the shadows, unable to accept the situation—and the mysterious Diana’s Pavilion looms in the background, perhaps offering all the answers to the Beast’s true identity.

Genres: Romance, Fantasy

Appears in: Essential Cinema