La Belle et la bête (1946)

France, 1946
93m (USA), 96m (France)
35mm film, black and white, 1.37:1
mono, French

A French fantasy film directed by Jean Cocteau.

Plot Summary

A down-on-his-luck merchant finds himself lost in the forest one day and finds his way to a strange castle. In the grounds, he picks a rose for his youngest daughter Bella and the castle’s owner, a half-human/half-beast-like creature threatens to kill him if he doesn’t turn over one of his daughters to take his place. Reluctantly, he hands over Bella – but the kind and perceptive Bella soon learns that there are hidden depths to the Beast, who may not be as monstrous as he appears.


* = uncredited

A film by: Jean Cocteau
© [not given on screen]
Producer: André Paulvé
Production Manager: Émile Darbon
Written by: Jean Cocteau
Based on the Story by: Ms Leprince de Beaumont [real name: Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont.[/mfn]
Script Girl: Lucile Costa
Director of Photography: Henri Alekan
Camera Operators: Henri Tiquet, Foucard [real name: Robert Foucard.[/mfn], Letouzey [real name: Raymond Letouzey.[/mfn]
Stills: Aldo
Editor: Claude Ibéria
Lab: G.M. Film
Music: Georges Auric; Philip Glass [1995 opera version] *
Orchestra Director: Roger Désormières
Sound: Jacques Lebreton, Jacques Carrère
Sound Assistant: H. Girbal, P. Gaborian
Costume Designers: Escoffier [real name: Marcel Escoffier.[/mfn], Castillo [real name: Antonio Castillo.[/mfn]
Costumes: La maison Paquin
Make Up: Arakelian [real name: Hagop Arakelian.[/mfn]
Decors: René Moulaert, Carré [real name: Lucien Carré.[/mfn]
Illustrated by: Christian Bérard
Technical Adviser: René Clément
General Manager: Roger Rogelys
Locations: Château de Raray, Senlis, France; Rochecorbon, Indre-et-Loire, Centre, France
Studio: Studios de St-Maurice, France

Jean Marais (Avenant/The Beast/The Prince)
Josette Day (Beauty)
Mila Parély (Felicie)
Nane Germon (Adelaide)
Michel Auclair (Ludovic)
Raoul Marco (the usurer)
Marcel André (the merchant)
Noël Blin
Jean Cocteau [voice of magic objects]
Christian Marquand
Gilles Watteaux

Alternative Titles

Beauty and the Beast – USA, UK
A Bela e o Monstro
– Portugal
La bella e la bestia – Italy
La bella y la bestia
– Argentina, Spain
Es war
– Austria
Es war einmal – Die Schöne und die Bestie
– Germany
Es war einmal
– Austria, Germany
Kaunotar ja hirviö
– Finland
Piekna i bestia
– Poland


BFI London Film Festival 9-20 October 2013 catalogue p.38
With its enchanted castle, home to fantastic living statuary, and Cocteau’s lover Jean Marais starring as a Beast who is at once brutal and gentle, rapacious and vulnerable, shamed and repelled by his own bloodlust, this remains a high point of the cinematic Gothic imagination. As Marina Wamer has written, ‘The film unfolds to a perfectly poised slow tempo in surreal settings that gain intensity from the fabulous décor and costumes, the glittering lighting and the many moments of magic effects. The candle-lit shadow-play deepens the Gothic atmosphere of the beast’s castle, harking back to early expressionist classics of the genre. – from an illustrated review by Jane Giles



  • Horror and Science Fiction Films: A Checklist by Donald C. Willis p.41 – credits
  • Reference Guide to Fantastic Films by Walt Lee p.30 – credits
  • Cult Movies: The Classics, the Sleepers, the Weird and the Wonderful – illustrated review (by Danny Peary)


  • L’Avant-Scène Cinéma no.138-139 (July-September 1973) pp.2-42 – script
  • Screen International no.428 (14-21 January 1984) p.9 – note (January films)

Other Sources

  • BFI London Film Festival 9-20 October 2013 catalogue p.38 – illustrated review