Beauty and the Beast 2014 – the Story Returns to its French Origins


After Yves Saint Laurent, the next much-anticipated French super-production in cinemas across the country is the latest version of Beauty and the Beast

It’s an ambitious production with two stars of the moment that many feel were born to play the eponymous parts: namely Vincent Cassel and Léa Seydoux. The former is French cinematic royalty at this point, having cut his teeth with Mathieur Kassovitz’s “La Haine” back in 1995 and been in a string of critically-acclaimed films ever since, including a number of English-speaking roles, such as in “Black Swan” and “Ocean’s Twelve”. The latter, meanwhile, is the diminutive star of the highly successful and controversial Palme d’Or-winning “Blue is the Warmest Colour”.

The mythical story of La Belle et La Bête was first written by Gabrielle-Suzanne de Villeneuve in 1740 and was first made into a film in 1946. This original version by legendary multi-disciplinary artist Jean Cocteau starred Jean Marais (France’s equivalent to Humphrey Bogart, perhaps) and Josette Day. Disney made a highly successful animated musical version in 1991, which has since become a stage musical that’s still playing around the world to this day.

This time around, it’s internationally-known horror/fantasy director Christophe Gans who brings the ancient tale into the 21st century.

The year is 1720. After his vessels are shipwrecked, a ruined merchant is forced to go into exile along with his six children in the countryside. One of his children is Belle – the youngest of the daughters – joyous and full of grace. In the course of an arduous journey, the merchant discovers the magical domain of the Beast, who condemns him to death for the theft of a rose. Racked with guilt for having brought misfortune upon his family, Belle decides to sacrifices herself in the place of her father. At the castle of the Beast, it isn’t death that awaits Belle but a strange new life, mixed with enchantment, joy and melancholy. Every evening, at dinner time, Beauty and the Beast meet. They learn to discover one another, to tame one another like two strangers against the world.

Beauty and the Beast is entertainment for cinema-goers of all ages and the French public will be the first to decide if this latest re-working of a classic tale has been worth the effort when it’s released in cinemas across France on the 12th of February.


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