La Belle et la Bete is the original Beauty and the Beast movie. It was made in 1946 by Jean Cocteau. It is in French with English sub-titles. As far as I am concerned this is the the best version of the Beauty and the Beast story which was written by Jean-Marie Le Prince de Beaumont and published in 1757. This is truly a magnificent film and was ahead of its time technology wise. The story unfolds in a way that is very avant-garde, fantasy, romantic and poetic. I totally LOVE this movie!!! The movie stars Josette Day as Belle and Jean Marais as the Beast/Avenant. Both of these French actors gave stellar performances.
Beauty and The Beast has similarities to the story of Cinderella. Belle is one of three daughters. Belle is sweet, down to earth and cares for her family; especially her father. Belle’s sisters Felicie and Adelaide are haughty and mean. Both sisters take advantage of Belle, and will not lift a finger to do any house work.
Belle’s only brother, Ludovic, is lazy and a scoundrel who gets the family into further debt by borrowing money from a money-lender.
Avenant is a friend of Belle’s brother Ludovic. Avenant is in love with Belle, but he is also a bit of a scoundrel. Avenant asks Belle to marry him. Ludovic gets in to a fight with Avenant because he knows what type of man Avenant is, and will not have Belle marrying him because she deserves better. Avenant easily wins the fight and proves that he has a bad temper as well.
After learning that one of his ships was recovered, Belle’s father goes to collect the treasure thinking his financial troubles are now over. However, he discovers that all of his fortune that was on the ship was seized to pay off his debts and nothing is left.
Belle’s father gets lost in the forest on his way back home and ends up in a mysterious castle where magical powers abound. Belle’s father was played by Marcel Andre’.
The Beast sentences Belle’s father to death for stealing one of his roses, but then decides that he can send one of his daughters in his place. Belle’s father returns to tell his family what happened but he refuses to send any of his daughters and decides to return to the castle himself.
Belle’s father gives her the rose that he took from the Beast’s garden. The rose was plucked from the bushes because Belle asked her father to bring her back a rose. While everyone is still sleeping, Belle sneaks off to the castle to ask the beast to spare her father’s life. Upon entering the castle the magic unfolds, and unknown to Belle, the Beast is watching her.
When Belle finally comes face to face with the Beast she faints. Head over heels in love, the Beast picks Belle up and carries her upstairs to a room he set aside just for her. As the Beast carries Belle in his arms her clothes magically turns into fine clothing fit for a queen.
Belle discovers that she need not be afraid of the Beast. Every evening while Belle Dines, the Beast shows up at 7:00pm and asks her the same question every time. He wants to know if Belle will agree to be his wife, but Belle says no every time. The Beast tells Belle that she is master of his castle and it is an honor for him to wait on her. Belle’s slightest desires are fulfilled.
Belle begins to care very much for the Beast and she realizes quickly that no matter what his outward physical appearance is, he has a tender heart.
Belle wants to go home because she saw in magic mirror that her father is dying from the loss of losing her. He thinks that she is dead and so he no longer has the will the live. The Beast tells Belle that he cannot let her go or else he will die from grief if she doesn’t return. Belle eventually convinces the Beast to let her go with a promise that she will return to him in seven days. Before Belle leaves the Beast gives her the key to a pavilion on his property that holds all of his riches. The Beast has faith that Belle will return to him with the key.
Belle’s selfish sisters are always plotting and listening in on other people’s conversations. Their only real concern is marrying a rich man.
Belle fulfills her promise to return to the Beast, and she discovers that she truly loves him. However, the Beast is ill and dying of grief because he believes that he has lost her. Belle holds onto to him pleading for the Beast to fight for life.
While Belle is trying to save the Beast, Avenant and Ludovic break into the pavilion and disturb the statue of the Goddess Diana.
The statue of Diana comes to life and shoots Avenant who broke into the pavilion by braking the glass roof. Avenant turns into the beast at the same time that the Beast returns to being Prince Ardent.
Prince Ardent explains to Belle, the events the led to him being turned into a beast long ago.
Beauty and Prince Ardent live Happily Ever After.
La Belle et la Bete is a story that has a deeper spiritual meaning. It showcases what happens to your life eventually when you turn away from the Light, but no matter how low you sink, the Light is always there, available and waiting patiently, and with love for you to return home.