Eat your heart out, Disney! Newly restored for the 50th anniversary of Jean Cocteau’s death, the French polymath’s 1946 debut feature splices the fairytale’s childlike enchantment with grown-up subtexts like no other version.
There’s a furry Freudian undercurrent to the beast (Jean Marais) and his longing gaze at the sweet young woman (Josette Day) he entraps – while his redemption echoes his home country’s emergence from four-and-a-half years of Nazi occupation.
The simple and surreal effects bind the spell: by using the tangible magic of hands through walls, moving statues, steamy paws and the rest, Cocteau makes rapt believers of us all – adults and children alike.
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