Disney’s Beauty and the Beast? Bah-humbug! For me there is only one B & B: Jean Cocteau’s 1946 treasure, La Belle et la Bete. It is so fantastic there are almost not words to describe it. Shot it gorgeous black and white it is a dazzling gothic nightmare that you wish would never end.
Which got me to thinking, what does it mean? What was the original message of the story? (Clearly there must be something here that resonates with audiences or there wouldn’t be a revival. Not to mention King Kong playing in the theatre next door, a Beauty and the Beast 2.0.) Thanks to the Google machine there are plenty of answers. The feminist perspective, the gay/outsider perspective, the-bride-to-be-in-an-arranged-marriage perspective, post WW II France, child rearing, etc. What a rabbit hole it is.
What satisfaction I did receive was that Cocteau is credited with the enchanted castle aspects of the story (not Disney and it’s singing tea cups). And there was a real beauty and the beast in the remarkable form of …
*Petrus Gonsalvus, who was born in the sixteenth century on the island of Tenerife (Spain) and was brought to the court of King Henry II of France. Petrus suffered Hypertrichosis, causing an abnormal growth of hair on his face and other parts. In Paris, he was welcomed under the protection of the king and married a beautiful Parisian woman named Catherine.
If truth is beauty than it’s a beast.
*Wikipedia, of course.