Saturday, March 18, 2017

Rare Flix: French Beauty and the Beast (1946)

Une histoire vieille comme le temps!  Today's Film is also Beauty and the Beast, only this time it is actually French!  Sorry, Soviet Satellite States- you only get one!  This is one of those odd ones that is both famous and obscure.  Basically, if you are a Film Snob, you are quite familiar with this one.  If you only know Disney's Version, you don't know what the hell this is.  This one is pretty close to the original Story, but with one extra bit that is notable.  I won't SPOIL it yet, so don't reveal anything if you are all reading this together as a group.  "Quick, Steve- stop the Party.  A guy just reviewed an old French Film- let's read it!"  In any event, this one is famous enough among certain groups to actually get a Criterion Collection Release!  It has finally reached the high mark of such Films as Repo Man and The Darjeeling Limited.  Since you already know the Story, I won't bog this down with general recap.  Instead, what stands out as different will get highlighted here.  To find out if this is truly a Classic, read on...
In this Version, the Sisters are basically the ones from Snow White and can't accept their dwindling wealth.  Can you tell?
The big change/addition here: the objects in the Castle are alive.

To be clear, the Book implies that there is magic there, but it is never explicit.  In other words, Disney took the idea from THIS Film.
Instead of teasing the Beast for so long, they show him right away and he's...a hairball.
To be fair to this Film, they actually push the romance far more than the Czech Film...sometimes.
He's also a rather one-trick pony here.  It is amazing that this doesn't work the first time.
Most BatB Films don't let you stop and see him drinking from a Pond.

On the plus side, it is not Blood!
One bit that makes it here, but not in to many Versions- the Beast's magic, teleportation glove.
This one also has the romantic rival, but he's not quite full Gaston.  That said, the likeness between this guy and Luke Evans is eerie.
The way this is all resolved is a bit odd too.  Not Luke Evans and Belle's Brother show up, only for the former to be shot by an arrow via a Statue and turn into the Beast, thus freeing the Prince.

Enjoy this new nightmare fuel.  The End.
Still a Classic.  I'm not going to pretend that I'm a big fan of this Story, but I can't ignore the obvious.  This Version has certainly earned its place in Film History though.  It has great visuals.  It has strong (if overdramatic) Music.  It has good Acting.  It is just a good Film.  I'm no hopeless romantic, but this is undeniably-good.  To expand upon something earlier, the Book sets up the idea that there is magic in the Castle.  'Belle' doesn't see any Maids or Servants, but their work is done while she sleeps.  This Film expands upon the idea to make the Statues, Mirrors and Artwork be alive.  If Disney didn't copy this directly, how did they get to singing Candlesticks exactly?  If you're a fan of the Story and can live with Subtitles (or speak French), this is an easy recommendation.  Its changes are fairly-minor and not at all bad.  If you don't care for older Films or the Story itself, well, don't watch it.  Whatever you do, just tone down the overdramatic posing.

Next time, a Sequel to a Film that didn't exactly inspire me to begin with.  It can only go up, right?  Stay tuned...

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