La Belle et la Bête

Peter Furtado reviews Ridley Scott's new Crusades epic.

Jean Cocteau's La Belle et la Bête was only his second film and was completed sixteen years after his first foray into this medium with Le Sang d'un poète (1930), an anti-realist, semi-surrealist film. Although public memory might more readily associate him with film-making because of the Lasting success of La Belle el la Bête (1946i) and Orphèe (1.949,'50), Cocteau never wished to lay claim to being a cineaste because he did not want to be under any obligation to make films – even though he did see film as a way of reaching a greater audience with his 'message-as-poet' of the importance of the unconscious. Indeed, Cocteau always saw himself as a poet. In his lifetime, he made only six films over a period of thirty years: all were intensely personal and, to a degree, self-referential.

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