HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Windom's Way
True Don Quixote, The
Babymother
Mitchells vs. the Machines, The
Dora and the Lost City of Gold
Unholy, The
How to Deter a Robber
Antebellum
Offering, The
Enola Holmes
Big Calamity, The
Man Under Table
Freedom Fields
Settlers
Boy Behind the Door, The
Swords of the Space Ark
I Still See You
Most Beautiful Boy in the World, The
Luz: The Flower of Evil
Human Voice, The
Guns Akimbo
Being a Human Person
Giants and Toys
Millionaires Express
Bringing Up Baby
World to Come, The
Air Conditioner
Fear and Loathing in Aspen
Kandisha
Riders of Justice
Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, The
For Those Who Think Young
Justice League: War
Fuzzy Pink Nightgown, The
Plurality
Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness
Night of the Sharks
Werewolves Within
Honeymoon
   
 
Newest Articles
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
   
 
  Belle et la Bête, La Tale as old as time
Year: 2014
Director: Christophe Gans
Stars: Vincent Cassel, Léa Seydoux, André Dussollier, Eduardo Noriega, Myriam Charleins, Audrey Lamy, Sara Giraudeau, Jonathan Demurger, Nicolas Gob, Louka Meliava, Yvonne Catterfeld, Dejan Bucin, Wolfgang Menardi, Mickey Hardt, Arthur Doppler, Elisabeth Bogdan
Genre: Romance, Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Spirited, aptly named Belle (Léa Seydoux) tries to keep her family happy when their beloved father (André Dussollier) faces financial ruin. In the wake of another failed venture the poor old man ends up fleeing a pack of ruffians led by the odious Perducas (Eduardo Noriega), to whom his feckless son owes money. Seeking refuge in the forest he stumbles upon an enchanted castle with a banquet table laden with extravagant food and caskets of treasure to which he foolishly helps himself along with an uncommonly beautiful rose as a gift for his precious daughter. Whereupon the lord of the castle, a monstrous Beast (Vincent Cassel) threatens to kill the old man unless he parts with the one thing he loves most. Upon learning of her father's plight, Belle courageously delivers herself to the Beast which proves only the first chapter in an uplifting, redemptive love story.

First published in 1794 by French author Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve then rewritten by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont into the most commonly known, abridged version of the story, Beauty and the Beast has of course been adapted for the screen countless times, most notably as the much beloved Disney animated musical in 1991. Yet in its country of origin all other adaptations pale before the spellbinding poetry of Jean Cocteau's seminal La Belle et la Bête (1946) which is to fairytale cinema what Citizen Kane (1941) is to drama. So no small amount of trepidation greeted news that writer-director Christophe Gans would pair Gallic superstar Vincent Cassel with Léa Seydoux, the current It-girl of French cinema, in a multi-million euro CGI remake as France's entry in the global live action fairytale craze: e.g. Maleficent (2014), Jack the Giant Slayer (2013), Snow White and the Huntsman (2012), Red Riding Hood (2012) and The Monkey King (2014).

Having started out as editor of influential French genre movie magazine Starfix, Gans segued into film-making with a segment in the H.P. Lovecraft-themed horror anthology Necronomicon (1993). His stylish but hollow manga adaptation Crying Freeman (1995) was disappointing but audacious historical drama/martial arts/monster movie mash-up Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001) proved inspired and entertaining enough to establish him as an idiosyncratic talent capable of genius. Gans' keen understanding of the guiding principles of world fantasy cinema proves the key ingredient in this twenty-first century take on Beauty and the Beast which is neither reboot nor revisionist but simply an eloquent revival of a timeless tale seen through modern eyes. It is through this delicate balancing act where Gans, his cast and production team succeed marvellously where so many others fail. We open as a mother lovingly reads from a storybook to her wide-eyed son and daughter. These children serve as stand-ins for the viewer as Gans rekindles the simple pleasures of cinema. Thereafter though he imbues the oft-told tale with an entirely state-of-the-art epic sweep that yields a feast for the eyes, he never allows all its digital trickery to stifle the soul of the story.

Opting out of aping Hollywood bombast, La Belle et la Bete 2014 retains an emphasis on lyricism and romance in a manner that does Jean Cocteau proud. It is foremost a love story, staying true to the original fairytale that remains a cleverly conceived allegory for relations between the sexes. Both Villeneuve and Beaumont's versions celebrate the power of women able to look beyond the beastly surface to perceive and eventually draw forth the man inside. At the same time the Beast goes from barking orders at Belle, trying to bribe her with riches or smooth talk to discovering that all it takes, to paraphrase Otis Redding, is a little tenderness. Unlike the Disney version, Gans adheres to the classic structure which for some modern tastes might seem to dawdle before getting to the meat of the story. Yet it is admirable that he takes time to establish the plight of Belle's father (indeed André Dussollier shoulders the first half of the story with an affecting performance) and the heroine's strength of character. An achingly lovely Léa Seydoux, who really does grow more beautiful as the plot progresses, offers a spirited modern fairytale heroine without looking like an anachronism. Which is a tricky thing to do. You really believe this young woman would crawl bleeding through a forest of thorns to save her one true love.

Whereas most versions relegate the Beast's back-story to a pre-credits prologue, here Gans and co-screenwriter Sandra Vo-Anh scatter flashbacks throughout as a series of magical dreams enable Belle to play detective and piece together his tortured past including an ingenious, heartrending twist that really heightens the tragedy and allows Vincent Cassel to appear onscreen sans his CGI makeover. Gans teases us at first with sporadic glimpses of the leonine beast, building an aura of menace before unveiling a suitably bestial yet restrained, emotive and engaging creation, which is as it should be. Sumptuous set design and special effects impart a suitably otherworldly ambiance upon the Beast's enchanted castle (costumes by Pierre-Yves Gayraud are equally ravishing) which includes nods to Cocteau but also modern magicians like Tim Burton and Hayao Miyazaki as stone giants erupt from the undergrowth and cute little puppy-like critters called Tadami roam the halls. Action is restrained for the most part although Gans stages some striking sequences - notably Belle's fall through a frozen lake - before cutting loose with the climactic siege that yields the most spectacular set-piece. Cinematographer Christophe Beaucarne serves up a warm, beguiling colour palette that like the storybook romance itself is just lovely.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 2415 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Christophe Gans  (1960 - )

French director with a talent for stylish martial arts/fantasy film-making. As a journalist in the 1980s Gans founded the influential cult movie magazine Starfix, and made his debut in 1994 by contributing to Necromonicon, Brian Yuzna's horror anthology film. Crying Freeman was an above-average live action version of the popular manga, while the genre-straddling Brotherhood of the Wolf was one of 2001's biggest international hits. Game adaptation Silent Hill was a disappointment, but his retelling of La Belle et la Bete satisfied his fans.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: