An oft-told fairytale and one that provided one of our favourite actors Ron Perlman with a rare steady job in the TV series, but the most beautifully realised version of the Beauty and the Beast story has to be the 1946 film by master filmmaker Jean Cocteau. La Belle et la bête is a landmark feat of cinematic fantasy in which Cocteau conjures spectacular visions of enchantment, desire, and death that have never been equalled.
Josette Day is luminous yet feisty as Beauty, and Jean Marais gives one of his best performances as the Beast, at once brutal and gentle, rapacious and vulnerable, shamed and repelled by his own bloodlust. Henri Alekan's subtle black and white cinematography combines with Christian Bérard's masterly costumes and set designs to create a magical piece of cinema, a children's fairytale refashioned into a stylised and highly sophisticated dream.
Previously released on DVD in 2001, La Belle et la bête is to be re-released on UK DVD by the BFI, newly restored by Fullimage for Studio Canal in association with Sky Arts and boasting the following features:
- Full feature commentary by cultural historian Sir Christopher Frayling;
- Fully illustrated booklet containing a new essay by Marina Warner along with posters, stills and artwork;
- Digitally restored and remastered;
- Newly created optional English subtitles;
- Dolby Digital mono audio (320 kbps).
The DVD will retail at £19.99.