Thursday, March 16, 2017

Rare Flix: Czechoslovakia's Beauty and the Beast (1978)

To celebrate Disney's new Film, why not look at the most obscure version possible?  Today's Film is Beauty and the Beast, only it comes from a Country that *technically* no longer exists.  It also comes from a time that really celebrated Arthouse Films, so that should inform this one quite a bit.  Do I need to recap what the Plot is?  This one is a somewhat-faithful Adaptation that also manages to slip in some stuff that didn't make it into Disney's Animated Version.  There is no Singing Candlestick though, so don't be too disappointed.  It comes from the Director...of nothing I've ever seen before.  How many Films from Czechoslovakia have you seen?  This one makes some interesting changes to the look and feel of the Tale, so it is definitely worth diving into...
In the Opening, we learn that our Heroine's Father is a Businessman who is in debt to some rich men.  A new deal goes awry when Wolves attack.

So yeah, that thing about the Dad being a crazy Inventor- totally made up by Disney.
Like in every Version, he ends up at the Castle and is allowed to stay the night.  Yet again, plucking a Rose is WAY too far for the Beast, apparently.

In this Version, the Rose is meaningless to him.  So, I guess, one point for Disney.
As you can see here though, the Beast is pretty, well, beastly.

To aid in the drama, they don't show him in full for another 20 minutes or so.
Our belle is forced to stay with the Beast now, which is the same, but the look of the Castle sure is more, well, Soviet Bloc.
In a part right out of the source material, but excised by Disney, our belle dreams of a handsome Prince.  Naturally, she assumes that he must be a Prisoner.

Well, she is partially-right.
In this Version, we see the biggest change.  The Beast is...Birdman?!?

A weird, but interesting choice to be sure.
He keeps her on as in all Versions, but he doesn't let her see him.  He also doesn't deny her thought about the 'captive Prince' either.
In the biggest change, this Beast drinks blood!  He is also taunted/challenged by a mysterious voice that is presumably just his madness.

He kills a damn Deer in this one, so just keep that in mind when...
He still 'dies' of loneliness, but is brought back for the happy ending.  It is true love...for a creepy captor who destroyed what she loved, took her from her home and punished her.

The (happy?) End.
A tale is weird as hell.  This one stays pretty close to the basic Story, but definitely makes its own changes to freshen it up.  The changes sure are odd!  Is the Tale more romantic if the Beast drinks blood and is taunted by an alternate personality?  Is it better if the Castle looks weird as hell?  Is it better if the Beast is a big-ass Birdman?  This one does tell the Story well, even if it is still an odd Story.  I have to wonder how it has endured so long.  In any event, this one definitely does little to make you feel love in the air.  Sure- she thinks that his Bird form has a nice voice (since it doesn't change, I guess) and eyes.  He is the same guy who threatened her Dad, made her leave home, smashed the Statues he saw her like (while stalking her) and let her see a family Dinner...but not go home.  He's kind of a Bird dick, in other words.  Oh well- true love!  If you like the Arthouse kind of stuff, this will greatly please you.  If you don't like the Story as a whole, this won't change your mind.  As for me, well, I got some ideas for Interior Decorating...
Next up, another take on the classic Tale.  Will this one be the classic that Film Snobs remember well or just plain dated?  Stay tuned...

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