“Then I will give you one day to say goodbye to your loved ones.You only need to whisper the words:“More than anything in the world,” to your horse, and he will bring you here.”
La Belle et La Bête is adapted from a fairy tale of the same name written by french author Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. The prior adaptations (most notably, Cocteau’s 1946 La Belle et La Bête or Disney’s) never really honor the source material, but instead refer to an abridged and tone-down version adapted by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont and published in 1756. The original source of the material offers a lengthier background story for both Bête and Belle.
Earlier this year, i saw Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et La Bête, a mesmerizing fantasy piece despite its mostly low-fi effects. But perhaps because of that it became even more amazing, since it is made in 1946. Almost 70 years later, this french-german production of the french fairy tale is released. Naturally, i couldn’t help but to think how technological advances especially in film industries should be able to create a more enchanting picture. But alas i was wrong.
La Belle et La Bête is a spectacle, grand production design with ample of CGIs, but like most cases (Maleficent, for example) it’s often inefficiently used and distract the audience from the story where the main focus should be. I worry this is also the case with Gans vision of the story. I wonder what the real target audience of the film really is. Because eventhough fairy tale are meant for children but it does have a darker edge that could be exposed and would be suitable for a more mature viewer. And since Gans held steadfastly to the origin of story, i wonder why did he need all the animated wide-eyed CGI dogs that belongs in kids genre? But then if it is marketed for its romantic arc why does it felt very flat and the two lead actors (Vincent Cassel and Léa Seydoux) really lacking of chemistry on screen. Then again, i felt perhaps their supposed blossoming love affair I felt overshadowed by the extensive flash back of Bête’s past life.
Overall, La Belle et La Bête felt like a lot of wasted potential. It has so many good things, but perhaps like a kid, Gans did not know what to do with it and just self indulgently created a grande spectacle in mind. Yet unlike what children did, i did not felt a rush of creativity nor joy from the end result.
LA BELLE ET LA BÊTE (2014)
GENRE Fantasy, Romance
DIRECTOR Christophe Gans | PRODUCER Richard Grandpierre | WRITER Christophe Gans, Sandra Vo-Anh | CINEMATOGRAPHER Christophe Beaucarne | MUSIC Pierre Adenot | EDITOR Sébastien Prangère | STUDIO Eskwad, Pathé, Studio Babelsberg | DISTRIBUTOR Pathé | COUNTRY France, German | RUNNING TIME 112 minutes | RATING N/A | RELEASE February 14, 2014 (US)
STARRING Vincent Cassel, Léa Seydoux, André Dussollier
DID YOU KNOW? Despite everything i love the production design for the film. See the sketches of the film concept art by François Baranger here.