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Beauty and the Beast: Essential Art House

267 customer reviews

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Product Description

Jean Cocteau reinvented the fairy tale for the cinema with this enchanting, exquisitely realized vision of Mme Le Prince de Beaumont's fantasy romance. With all manner of unparalleled visual effects and photographic tricks, Cocteau makes the spellbinding tale of transformative love both ethereal and tangible, and his indelible images haunt the cinema like no others.

Review

One of the most magical of all films. --Roger Ebert

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Jean Marais, Michel Auclair, Josette Day, Nane Germon, Marcel André
  • Directors: Jean Cocteau
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Black & White, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: September 9, 2008
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (267 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001BEK8DS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,965 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

214 of 221 people found the following review helpful By J. Clark on March 12, 2003
Format: DVD
Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast (1946) is not only one of the greatest films I have seen - a perfect blend of poetic fantasy and psychological depth - it's also one of my all-time favorites. The restored version from the Criterion Collection is among the best DVDs I have seen, both for the breathtaking clarity of the image and sound, and for a wealth of supplemental materials, including several fascinating documentaries, essays in a lavish printed booklet, and Philip Glass's complete opera synched to the film on a separate audio track.
With each re-viewing of Beauty and the Beast, I see new layers of Cocteau's vision. As a child, I was enthralled by how real, and actually lived in, this fairy tale world seemed. And I was spellbound by the Beast, brought fully, both horribly and tenderly, to life by Jean Marais' riveting performance. I will never forget the Beast's death scene, when Marais expresses worlds of pain, love, and self-understanding solely through the eyes peering out of a feral, hair-covered face.
The film does not need today's digital special effects; it still works perfectly with its own low-tech but deeply resonant wonders. And it is a triumph of design. Cocteau worked closely with production "illustrator" Christian Bérard and cinematographer Henri Alekan to give the picture what he called "the soft gleam of hand-polished old silver." It is filled with simple but gorgeous - and unforgettable - tableaux, from a corridor of disembodied human arms grasping candelabra that burst into flame as you pass by, to Beauty gliding in slow motion through the enchanted castle. Then there is the indefinable magic of the scene at the manor with huge white sheets drying in the sun, creating silhouettes of striking power.
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54 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 18, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
In this, his first feature film, director Jean Cocteau set a standard for filmmaking that not even he could surpass. A masterpiece of inventive, surreal imagery, this film captivates the viewer as few other films have. Haunting, lyrical, and enchanting, this film retells the story of an age old fairy tale classic, "Beauty and the Beast" by Jeanne Marie LePrince De Beaumont. The film is sheer poetry in motion.
This marvelous, exquisitely rendered adaptation centers around the core of the fairy tale. An impoverished merchant (Marcel Andre) comes across a most unusual chateau, deeply hidden in the forest, where he is provided with hospitality by an unseen host. Upon leaving, he happens to break off a rose from a rosebush in the garden of his reclusive host, in order to take it back to Beauty (Josette Day), the most beloved of his three daughters. This simple act calls forth his previously unseen host, The Beast (Jean Marais), who tells him that the theft of that which The Beast loves most will cost the merchant his life or the company of the one whom the merchant loves most, one of his daughters. Allowed to return home temporarily, the merchant tearfully recounts what happened to him, and Beauty surreptitiously goes in his place to the enchanted chateau upon a magical horse that seems to sparkle with fairy dust. It is there that she, too, meets The Beast. Alas, the path of true love does not run smoothly, and Beauty and The Beast, together, make that discovery.
Be prepared for a visual feast of dreamy black and white cinematography, as well as one of the most unusual sets ever to grace the silver screen. Living statuary, human candelabras, and tears that turn to diamonds are just some of the exquisite, surreal immagery that take the viewer's breath away.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Brian Whistler VINE VOICE on March 29, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I vascillated for a long time on picking up this disc. Its pricey and I asked myself, how often I would want to revisit this film, practically memorized by now, having viewed it countless times over the years.

Yet something drew me to this edition, and the verdict is definitely a positive one. The restored version is lovely-all the incredible contrasts of soft greys, silver and stark blacks have been gloriously brought back to life. This what they mean by "in glorious black and white!" There is a clarity and richness here that gives the viewer an opportunity to notice subtlties that were obscured by the scratchy old print that was used on the VHS version. Gone are the distracting audio pops and clicks and most of the visual scratches, allowing the viewer to more readily fall into the dreamy trance of this timeless film.

Cocteau was a poet and a visionary,and despite the technical limitations of film in the 1940's, he brought real magic to the screen, something that today's digital wizardry doesn't always deliver. This is a richly textured retelling of this famous fable, full of detail and nuance. It is decidely more Grimms than Disney, so I don't recommend showing it to small children. Charged with an undercurrent of eroticism and psychological symbols,it is really a fairy tale for adults.

The disc is packed with extras. I haven't yet checked them all out, but the "Screening at the Majestic' is a nice documentary. I particularly enjoyed seeing Jean Marais, still very much alive and kicking, reminiscing at the very house that was used as the set for Beauty's family home.
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I wish someone would tell us what this "Essential Art House" disc includes
From what I've read it is "extras-free."
Jun 7, 2009 by Joshua N. Carnes |  See all 4 posts
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