Beauty and the Beast

Shown on a restored 35mm print, Jean Cocteau’s exquisitely romantic 1946 treatment of the French fairy tale is both poetic and prosaic. Beauty (Josette Day) enters an enchanted realm where candelabras have human arms and sculptures human faces (whose eyes watch her come and go). Meanwhile, back in bickering reality, her family squabbles in low comic relief. (“Slap her!” exclaims her hot-headed brother, who then adds, “How dare you slap my sister?”) No wonder she prefers being held captive by the gruff but gentle Beast (Jean Marais, Cocteau’s impossibly handsome lover, who also plays Beauty’s brash suitor). As Beauty gradually tames Beast, she reconsiders her intention to remain a maid, allowing love to transform her into a woman. Yet as with any classic fairy tale, that deeper turmoil never spoils the surface charm. (NR) BRIAN MILLER

Jan. 23-29, 7 & 9 p.m., 2009

 
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