February 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Film: Jean Cocteau’s
La Belle et le Bête with music by Georges AURIC  
Starring Josette Day and Jean Marais. France Black and White 1946.
  British Film Institute (bfi) BFIVD528   [118 mins with documentary and commentary]

La Belle et le Bete

This film definitely comes under the category once seen, never forgotten; and, for once, the overworked description ‘magical’ really fits. It is French, made in 1946, in black and white with subtitles - but that should not deter anybody with a keen interest in films and imaginative and innovative cinephotography for this film has been a seminal influence on fantasy films ever since. The music, by George Auric, is just as inspired and has been recorded by Adriano on Marco Polo 8.223765. You can read the review on this site.

The film was shot on a very limited budget, in and around two small chateaux near Tours. No special effects were used; it is all moody lighting and atmospheric photography in the Beast’s enchanted castle with its disembodied arms pouring wine or bearing candelabra and pointing the way for Beauty; with its watchful-eyed caryatids, its haunted, tormented shadows and white billowing curtains in long dark corridors.

The DVD is feature-rich: a documentary on the making of the film with commentary from some of the actors and technicians and another run-through of the film with an adroit commentary by writer and cultural historian Sir Christopher Frayling; plus a picture gallery and biographies.

The film has been digitally mastered from a new restored print.

A magical classic of the cinema – not to be missed

Ian Lace


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