Shot over nine months starting from the end of World War II, in August 1945, Cocteau reinterpreted "Beauty and the Beast"'s tale of Madame Leprince de Beaumont in one of the most impressive cinematographical poem in the history of cinema.
Accompanied by his friends — actors like Jean Marais and Marcel André, decorator Christian Bérard, Marcel Escoffier as costume designer, and composer Georges Auric — Jean Cocteau introduced in his crew other admirable people. Talented artists such as Mila Parély and Nane Germon in the role of the sisters Felicia and Adelaide, Michel Auclair in the role of brother Ludovic, Doudou in the role of Diane and Josette Day in the role of Belle. Sublime discovery this actress is for her natural, pure and subtle acting skills make her the perfect actress for this role. Among the technical staff, Henri Alekan (cinematographer) and René Clément (assistant director) supported Cocteau. Especially Clement who directed sequences in the castle of the Beast while Cocteau was gravely ill at the Pasteur Institute. Detail Jean describes well in his film diary, which people can buy in bookshops or consult in libraries.
Far from telling the story that we already know, Cocteau takes the opportunity to enrich the mythology with very important antagonists like Ludovic, brother of Belle, Avenant, a friend whose love for Belle reveals him a very dangerous soul, and Diane Pavillon's, a magical section in the castle. Through these additions, Cocteau gave the story a greater dramatic tension that enriches the theme of appearance and beauty, but also an open ending that questions the film and some elements like the beast's nature, true intentions, double motives, and his universe. For in this tale are two dimensions. A real world similar to Vermeer paintings, with suffocating accessories and superficial frills. And the magical world of the Beast; whose subtle, frugal decorations, and clair-obscur lighting are reminiscent of Gustave Doré's engravings. Where the impossible becomes a theatre of surrealism.
Visually, the Blu-Ray version is impressive in HD , even if the image quality of the film, made on different types of film stocks, can be felt in certain sequences, which is what explains a bonus on the Restoration of the film. Indeed, as time went on, the film became damaged, resulting in noises, scratches and perforations that required several restorations sessions of the nitrates.
In its audio, the film offers an uncompressed Mono soundtrack, but also an HD recording of an opera by Philip Glass, who was inspired by Cocteau's film. As bonuses, other wonders are there too. Either the original trailers of the film that reference to sequences deleted in the film involving Belle, Adelaide, Ludovic, and Felicie. Comments of film historians, including a leaflet with Cocteau's message in regard to American audiences. But mostly an interview celebrating 50 years of the film, which took place in Rochecorbon with Henri Alekan, Mila Parély and Jean Marais, accompanied by Cocteau sound clips explaining his film.
As such, this film is fun for all movie lovers and fans of Cocteau who, under the HD treatment Criterion collection, can rediscover a classic under the HD splendor.