La belle et la bête

Beauty and the Beast | Es war einmal
An impoverished merchant is riding through the woods at night when he comes upon an enchanted castle. As he picks a rose in the garden for his daughter Belle, the castle’s bestial master threatens him with death – unless one of the merchant’s daughters takes his place. Belle agrees to do so. Initially repelled by the Beast’s hideous appearance, Belle discovers a tender heart behind the grotesque face. Meanwhile, the predatory instinct comes alive in Belle’s brothers and sisters when they learn of the Beast’s gold treasure chamber … The enchanted world of the castle is created with the magic of light. Just as objects in the castle prove to be alive, light and darkness also develop a life of their own – a human shadow takes on its own spirit, or candles light themselves. Cinematographer Henri Alekan’s lighting scheme was inspired by the Flemish masters Jan Vermeer and Pieter Coecke van Aelst. As a contrast, there is the almost avant-garde travelling shot through a dark hall with very few light sources, so that the screen goes black at times. Alekan was working here in concert with Jean Cocteau’s dictum that ‘for me, it is not a question of beautiful lighting, but rather of the right lighting.’
by Jean Cocteau
with Josette Day, Jean Marais, Marcel André
France 1946 93’