Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast

La Belle et la Bête

Programme: Special Events

1946 / France / romantic fantasy drama

Directed by Jean Cocteau
Cast: Jean Marais, Josette Day, Mila Parély
French, with Lithuanian and English subtitles, 96 min

The screening is a part of the Deep Rivers Run Silent programme, coordinated by Meno avilys. It starts the series of the events of the 11th Vilnius Queer Festival Kreivės and marks the 20th anniversary of išgirsti.

Beauty and the Beast is one of the most important films by the French queer poet, writer and artist Jean Cocteau, and an example of an incredibly sophisticated cinematic aesthetic. The film is characterised by its vivid imagination, its sumptuous costumes, its unique set design (Beauty’s home is inspired by Flemish paintings and Vermeer’s canvases, while the Beast’s dwelling recalls Gustave Doré’s illustrations of Perrault’s fairy tales), the skill of cinematographer Henri Alekan (Beauty’s world is not the same as that of the Beast’s), and the superb performances of Josette Day and Jean-Marais. Cocteau narrates the fairy tale written in the 18th century in his own way. Beauty’s father picks a rose from the Beast’s garden and gives it to his daughter. To save her father from death, Beauty sacrifices herself and goes to the Beast’s castle in his stead.

The film is most often interpreted as a coming-of-age parable: Beauty moves from her father’s care into the unknown realm of adult sexuality. But it is clear that for Cocteau, what is most important is the Beast, the classical Other of normative culture. Moving away from the traditional tale of Beauty’s love that transforms the beast into a prince, Cocteau creates a world in which the intentions of humans towards Beauty grow increasingly sinister, and the Beast’s intentions become more convincingly honourable and good. The unexpectedly ambiguous and complex character of the Beast is created by Cocteau’s muse and lover Jean Marais. He also plays two other roles in the film.


July 18, 2024, 9.30 PM
“Patiltė”, under Liubartas bridge, Vilnius