Best French Films Home Page

Best French Films Ever.
Top Rated French Movies: popular, classic, famous "must watch" Cinema Fançais

7. La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast)

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Although we think we are all familiar with fairy tales like Beauty and the Beast, there is much more to them than we ever learned in the Nursery.

Jean Cocteau's version of Beauty and the Beast is very far away from the nursery version, so don't expect an anodyne Walt Disney style film. Think rather, sparkling surrealism and magical special effects achieved while the supporting technology was still at its most basic.

An old man sets out one night in the fog to go home. He finds himself on the property of the Beast, a half-human creature, possessed of magic powers, .

The Beast captures the old man when he picks a rose from the Beast's garden, but lets him go on condition that he brings one of his daughters to take his place.

Bella, who is a Cinderella figure to her two sisters, and for whom her father had picked the rose, agrees to go, and arrives at the Beast's castle, where she takes up residence.

In time she realises that despite his Bestial appearance and magical powers, her new custodian has a human heart within - more than usually gentle, and more than usually tortured.

Bela returns home to visit her ailing father, an event which triggers unforeseen consequences and the eventual denouement.

The film is famed not only for its graceful story, but also for the sets and atmosphere. It is entirely in tune with the original dark folk tales that we have so often converted into children's stories.

A genuine World classic, though the very end might seem a little too Holywwod fairy tale for some.

Genre: Drama / Fantasy
Year: 1946
Runtime: 96 min / USA:93 min
Country: France / Luxembourg
Colour: Black and White
Sound Mix: Mono

Directed by: Jean Cocteau
Writing credits
Jean Cocteau (story & dialogue)
Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont (story)

Cast:
Jean Marais, La Bête/The Prince/Avenant
Josette Day, Belle
Mila Parély, Félicie
Nane Germon, Adélaïde
Michel Auclair, Ludovic
Raoul Marco, The usurer
Marcel André, Belle's father

Philip Glass composed an opera synchronized to the film. Eliminating the original soundtrack, he composed the opera to be performed along with the film projected behind the orchestra and singers. The compact disc recording of Glass's "La Belle et la Bête" can be played alongside the film.

Singing voices (1995 opera version)
Janice Felty, La Belle
John Kuether, The Father/The usurer
Ana María Martinez, Félicie
Hallie Neill, Adélaïde
Gregory Purnhagen, La Bête / Avenant / Ardent / The port official
Zhang Zhou, Ludovic



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The titles (in the US) of the best French films, sorted by title


  Title Year
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Fantasy Drama, Romance
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11 Delicatessen1991
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14 Hidden2005
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18 Jules et Jim1961
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20 La Femme Nikita1990
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21 Manon of the Spring1986
Drama, Romance, modernised Greek Tragedy
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22 Monsieur Hire1989
Crime Thriller, Romance, Drama
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26 Ridicule1996
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27 Swimming Pool2003
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28 The 400 Blows1959
Crime Drama
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29 The Big Blue1988
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30 The City of Lost Children1995
Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro
31 The Closet2001
Comedy Drama
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32 The Discrete Charm of the Bougoisie1972
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33 The Dominici Affair1973
Crime Drama Mystery
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34 The Double Life of Veronique1991
Music, Fantasy, Romance, Psychological Drama
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35 The Fabulous Destiny of Amelie Poulain2001
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36 The Girl On The Bridge1999
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37 The Hate1995
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38 The Last Metro1980
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39 The Piano Teacher2001
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40 The Reader1988
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41 The Return of Martin Guerre1982
History (16thC) Drama, Biography, Crime, Mystery,
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42 The Visitors1993
Fantasy, Comedy
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44 Three Colors: Red1994
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