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Friday, March 4, 2011

Movie Review: Beastly

Why use your legs when you have me?
I worked in a book/video store in college and one of the staff’s favorite films to play on mute was “La Belle et la Bete,” Jean Cocteau’s 1946 iteration of the classic French fairytale "Beauty and the Beast." It’s doubtful one needs a synopsis since Disney’s already had its way with it, but "Beauty and the Beast" is the story of a beautiful and kind woman who despite his outer appearance falls in love with a beast who turns out to be a hot prince.

Cocteau’s ethereal yet dark masterpiece is one of the most transcendent fantasy films of all time. The scene when the beast dies (temporarily) in Belle’s arms still haunts me after all these years and multiple viewings. Disney’s version has a similar moment when we think Belle’s declaration of love seems moments too late. Such dark romanticism with just a hint of bestiality, it seems totally natural that the story be remade into a lame teen movie without all that pesky mortality, sacrifice and torture of the original fairytale. “Beastly” is that poorly-made contemporary telling that is, sadly, only skin deep.