While Cocteau’s beatific take on The Beauty and the Beast fairy tale plays like a dream, it’s tempting to present The Beast as La Belle et la bête’s dark flipside. Yet its pleasingly bizarre eroticism and obvious sense of humour would preclude Walerian Borowczyk’s vision from being described as a nightmare.
Opening with scenes of horses mating in the courtyard of a stately home, The Beast is a satire that nods to Buñuel, telling of a fading French aristocrat who thinks his family has been saved when the daughter of a wealthy Englishman agrees to marry his son. The blushing bride-to-be grabs the attention of a mysterious beast with insatiable desires. (Notes by Michael Hayden.)
This film is screening as part of Sex, the first of our three-month season dedicated to excess, presenting examples of how cinema has taken on sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll in Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll.
See also our monthly film from the IFI Irish Film Archive, From the Vaults: I Can’t I Can’t, which screens on January 22nd.