Monday, 12 November 2012

Mise en Scene Film Review: La Belle et la Bete

La Belle et la Bete, or more commonly known as Beauty and the Beast (1946), was filmed and directed by a French poet called Jean Cocteau, whose  designer influences and diverse background can be seen throughout the film. 

Throughout the film, there is the use of humans in place of real world artifacts, such as lamps, statues and candle holders. This gives the film both an eerie sense of people watching you, but also a very whimsical and theatrical feel that the artifacts are there to help you and serve you.

Figure 1
Figure 1 is a film still from the beginning of the film, featured in the image is the use of arms and hands as candle holders that move in time with the people in the set, which also gives the film a real-time feel to it. 'Cocteau's version is lushly, deliciously frightful, embellishing the basic fairy tale with a surreal, delicate eroticism of spying mirrors; of a magic castle with seeming peeping-tom eyes, all the better to satisfy ones every whim' (Johanson, 2002) As Maryann Johanson says, the film that Cocteua's created was not an ordinary fantasy romantic film that is portrayed in the Disney adaptation, but more of a dark and frightful version that is somewhat more believable to an adult audience; with the use of people as props, it lends the film a sense of eerie realism that draws in the viewers attention to the sets.

Another noticeable aspect of the film is the theatrical lighting that is used to emphasise the mood of a scene or help to enlarge or shrink some of the set to create more interesting spaces. A lot of the lighting throughout the film is based solely on the characters faces when they are thinking or talking, this is mostly to help the audience follow who is the main person in that scene and what the main focus is, if a scene has more to it then the lighting will change and expand to show more of the surroundings.

Figure 2
Figure 2 is a shot of Beauty looking into the magic mirror to see how her Father is. The lighting in this scene is focuses solely on Beauty and the mirror to show the main focus and point of this particular scene and to give all the attention to them rather than the background and the set. 'Beast's world is dreamily romantic, everything curve shaped and shadowy, the expressionist lighting just exquisite' (Lorefice, 2005) As Lorefice says, the lighting in the Beast's castle and world is done in a way to create a dream like ambiance to tie in with the story of the film and to create a much more thrilling effect on the audience when the characters first enter the castle.

Considering the date in which La Belle et la Bete came out, there is a lot of trick photography and effects that are used to help simulate a dream like world in the Beasts castle; Beauty seeming to glide through doors and skimming across floors, the necklace of pearls that turns into something horrible when the other sister touches it and the movements of objects within the castle that all have an airy and floaty feel about them all add to the effect of the castle and the way the audience interprets it. 'Even the film's simple (non-digital) camera tricks can still shock, as when Belle attempts to give a beautiful pearl necklace to her sister and it turns into a hunk of rotted vine.' (Anderson, 2011)  Anderson mentions the necklace and the effect that the camera tricks still have on the audience, simplistic camera tricks can help create a surreal environment, which was done with Beasts castle.

Figure 3

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Maryann Johanson. In: [online] At: (Accessed on: 12/11/12)

Mike Lorefice. In: [online] At: (Accessed on: 12/11/12)

Jeffery Anderson. In: [online] At: (Accessed on: 12/11/12)


  1. Just a reminder to always put your quotes into italics, Katy - and, sorry to be a grammar bore - but you've got an outbreak of missing apostrophes for designating the possessional i.e. it should read 'the beast's castle' as opposed to the 'beasts castle' - here, the apostrophe signals that the castle 'belongs' to the beast. Nice choice of quotes though - but on my laptop at least, figure 2 is cut in half?

  2. Oh, apologies for the grammar mistakes, ill correct them, also, the second image works okay when I preview it? The mysteries of technology..