MIFF: Beauty and the Beast

07.15.11

Written for the 2011 Melbourne International Film Festival program. Being a film festival of some repute there was a fairly formal shape to most of these pieces, but this did allow you to indulge in somewhat more fantastical and intellectually-geared rhetoric.

“Art produces ugly things which frequently become more beautiful with time.” – Jean Cocteau

Coming from one of the finest exponents of the avant garde that France has ever seen, Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast was a marvel of contemporary filmmaking, a surrealist masterwork that revelled in the possibilities opened up by the moving image.

A children’s fairytale transformed into haunting post-World War II allegory, Cocteau’s vision of Beauty and the Beast is readily familiar yet deeply strange. Woven through with Dali-esque imagery, Freudian undercurrents and a lingering obsession with death, Cocteau painted a world both beautiful and perverse, a glittering phantasm of fevered love and the ever present hope of redemption.

“One of the most magical of all films.” – Roger Ebert