Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast reflects the value of acceptance and teaches its viewers to give more importance to the personality and character of an individual rather than his or her physical appearance. The film started with a man stealing a rose from the Beast’s garden to take home for his daughter, Beauty. Unfortunately, the Beast caught him and asked for his life or the life of one of his three daughters in return as punishment. Upon learning what happened, Beauty decided to stay with the Beast to save his father’s life. She was scared at first with the Beast but as days passed by she realized that the Beast is kind, gentle, and honest. She then began to become closer to him and care about him. Basically the story revolved on how they both fell in love with each other despite their differences. The film focused on the importance of personality than appearance, the value of being good, and unconditional love.
According to most movie critics, Beauty and the Beast portrays a moral lesson that can be easily understood even by children. The film teaches that who you are and what you are matters more than your appearance. In the case of the Beast, before he was cursed, he was a very handsome prince yet he was also stubborn and hardhearted. However, when he was cursed to become a beast he then became a kind, softhearted individual who learned how to love and care for others. Beauty once told the Beast in the movie, “Some men who are handsome on the outside are truly monsters within.”
The scene when the two wicked sisters of Beauty looked into the magic mirror and were surprised to see a wizened old crone and a gibbering monkey instead of themselves, though very humorous, imparts a moral lesson that those who are bad will eventually be punished and those who are good will be rewarded in the end. At the very start of the story, it was shown that Beauty’s sisters were really self-centered and wicked. They even smeared onions in their eyes to pretend that they felt despaired that Beauty needs to return to the Beast but all the while they were actually plotting against her. At the end of the story, Beauty’s sisters were punished to become servants of Beauty and the Beast, who is already a prince, in heaven. In the case of Beauty, she has always been hardworking for her family and she even sacrificed herself for the safety of her father. Her good heart brought her genuine happiness and true love in the end.
Moreover, the love story of Beauty and the Beast is a story of unconditional love. Beauty freed the Beast from the spell because of her unselfish love. This was show in the last scene when Beast asked Beauty if she is happy with his new appearance, Beauty answered, “It’s something I must get used to.” In short, Beauty loves the Beast regardless of how he looks like. She cared more about Beast’s beauty rather than his terrifying appearance. Greta Garbo, one of the best actresses from Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer, was said to be so touched while watching the scene where the Beast finally transformed into a handsome prince. She said at the end of the film, “Give me back my Beast!”
Though Beauty and the Beast lived a completely different life before they knew each other-Beast living in luxury yet alone and lonely while Beauty living in a simple, challenging life but is happy with her family- they did not let their difference affect their love. In other words, the story shows that life is a matter of how one perceives it just like how Beauty and the Beast choose to be happy in the end when they were raised in heaven.
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- Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et La Bete). October 2007. Moviediva. 12 April 2008. <http://www.moviediva.com/MD_root/reviewpages/MDBeautyBeast.htm>