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Shock Corridor Cinema Presents Jean Cocteau's Blood of a Poet (1930) and Beauty And The Beast (1946)

Tue. October 12th 2004 8pm
A diversely talented ‘renaissance man’ and well-connected French artist, Jean Cocteau’s career spanned nearly sixty years. His artistic repertoire included everything from illustration to poetry to Playwriting and filmmaking and his contemporaries included such figures as Luis Bunuel, Edouard De Max, Pablo Picasso, Erik Satie, Edith Piaf and a stack of other prominent artists from the era.

Simple by design, Cocteau’s films are visually stunning, and it is the interplay of imagery in his work more than the writing that most successfully convey his ideas. The abundance of symbolic iconography in his films; mirrors, horses, gloves, keys etc has provoked much discussion Cocteau’s films in the context of the Surrealist movement. However loaded with elements of surrealism his films may be, Cocteau’s oddly psychedelic blending of these elements with mythology, emotion and spectacle is difficult to pin a label to.

The first screen adaptation of the classic story, Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast is one of the most magical films ever made. It dwells in the type of world where enchanted castles are lighted by candles held by moving, human arms that sprout from the wall; statues come to life; magic gloves can transport you from one location to another; mirrors cast a reflection of your true self; and love transcends the brutality of the physical world.

Drawing on some of the stylistic and thematic elements of both Surrealism and German Expressionist cinema Cocteau’s version of this classic fairly tale is nightmarishly beautiful in its tribute to both movements. Full of cheeky symbolism (it is a fairy tale after all), this film’s cerebral intentions don’t overpower its magic. Though those who go looking for analyzable tidbits won’t be disappointed, the film’s intoxicating visual presence is enough to make it thoroughly clever. This is a film not to be missed by fans of innovative set and costume design. Made entirely with in-camera effects, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is a refreshing reminder of what is the imagination is capable of without the use of digital effects (think Gorges Melies meets David Lynch).