{ feuilleton }


• • • Being a journal by artist and designer John Coulthart, cataloguing interests, obsessions and passing enthusiasms.


La Belle et la Bête posters


Clive’s posts last week about Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête (here, here and here) sent me back to the film, a most welcome re-viewing. This in turn had me searching for copies of the posters of which these are some of the better examples. No dates or credits, unfortunately, although the French ones above and below look as though they may have been drawn by the film’s production designer, Christian Bérard. (Update: not Bérard, they’re the work of poster artist Jean-Denis Malclès.)

The style of Bérard’s drawings, and much of the film itself, had me thinking this time round of Hein Heckroth, Michael Powell’s favourite production designer whose sketches also had a painterly style. Powell and Pressburger’s The Red Shoes (with designs by Heckroth) appeared a couple of years after La Belle et la Bête although Powell doesn’t mention Cocteau at all in his autobiography so there’s no need to go looking for influences. Both films are based on fairy tales, of course. Powell shared Cocteau’s taste for fantasy and cinematic magic although the closest he gets to the story of Beauty and the Beast is Peeping Tom (1960), a film that contains little of either. By coincidence, Powell scholar Ian Christie calls Peeping Tom the director’s equivalent of Cocteau’s Le testament d’Orphée which was also released in 1960. But that’s a speculation for another day.






Previously on { feuilleton }
The writhing on the wall
Le livre blanc by Jean Cocteau
Cocteau’s sword
Cristalophonics: searching for the Cocteau sound
Cocteau at the Louvre des Antiquaires
La Villa Santo Sospir by Jean Cocteau



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3 comments or trackbacks

  1. #1 posted by Clive Hicks-Jenkins


    John, I too thought the first two posters looked as though they were from Bérard’s hand. Those free brush-marks against a black ground resemble fully worked-up versions of the chalk-on-black scenario sketches he did for the film.

    Is your copy the BFI version, and is it any good? I’ve had mixed reports about its quality. The general consensus is that the Criterion DVD is the better restoration (and I would love the Philip Glass soundtrack option that comes with it) but of course it’s not possible to play Criterion ‘out of region.’

  2. #2 posted by John


    Yes, my copy is the old BFI DVD. It’s good but looks pretty rough compared to other films of the period, especially Orphée which was only a few years later. If I were you I’d wait for a Blu-ray edition as everything looks better on Blu-ray:


    Regarding regions, you can find multi-region DVD players very cheaply.

  3. #3 posted by Clive Hicks-Jenkins


    Thank you so much John for the good advice. I think the Criterion Blue-ray version will be the one, with a multi region player. I’ll explore some more.






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