La Belle et La Bete is one of the all-time great movie fantasies, and one of the most gorgeous pictures ever made. It was the first feature film by French director Jean Cocteau, a writer, poet and painter with ties to the surrealists. (In fact, his first film, The Blood of a Poet, was delayed after the scandal caused by L'Age D'Or, made by his fellow surrealists Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali.) The haunting, surreal visuals (candelabra made of human hands, for example) and a sensitive performance by Jean Marais as the Beast imbue the film with an indelible, mythical power. --Jim Emerson
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