Recently, To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Jean Cocteau’s death, TheIt is one of the finest productions in movie history regarding this beloved fairy tale. Marie -France’s lovely poster commemorating this movie with its soft coloring and charming attention to detail, inspired this month’s poem, The Restoration.
French Film Festival presented his timeless classic Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bête). Cork
Where as Monsieur Cocteau’s film ends happily with the beast turned back into a prince and Beauty avowing her love for evermore, I have contemplated what happened before the dramatic change and what happened immediately after. The first part examines the beast’s reaction to fire on both an instinctive and emotional level. Like all species, he fears the flame when it belongs to that of the hunters’ campfire. The very men who seek to hunt wild game and then savagely celebrate their kill by anointing their brows with blood and keeping the head for a trophy. Yet, his own hunger becomes fire, a yearning for fresh meat in the forest when the wind sharpens its scent with the musk of deer and evergreen.
And then there is the flame of passion, his longing for Beauty rustling through the room in her silk gown. When he sees the candelabrum glowing in her hand like a lyre of heat, a melodic illumination that enhances her graceful movements, he is cleansed of his primal nature and baptized by the pure warmth of Beauty’s compassion.
The second part examines what occurs after the beast is changed back into a prince and all his noble qualities, both physical and spiritual are restored. With the curse broken, he is left doubtful, confused. He wonders if his transformation is real or an illusion. He also questions the validity of Beauty’s love. As a beast, she cared for him out of human goodness and compassion. She also stayed with him to fulfill her obligations. But now, when she claims that her affections are directly from the heart, free of pity, and stemming from a rekindled sense of passion, he questions the intensity and motive of her declaration. Is she saying those things out of duty or a fierce loyalty that will not let her speak the truth? Or is her passionate avowal stirred by a deeply sensual attraction to his new form and genteel character. With a simple gesture of reassurance, the sun fades into evening, and not only is the spell truly broken; but the prince’s confidence in himself, life and Beauty’s authenticity are restored.
As a beast, though clothed
in broadcloth breeches and coat,
shirt lace foaming under his chin,
he has learned to both fear
and crave the flame.
When the wind sharpened the scentof evergreen and deer, his hunger
became fire -- burning with a taste
for wild game. He searched the forest;
and when he saw sparks glitter
from a campsite, wood smoke blending
with the hunters’ drunken breath, he ran
aware of their savage ways,the blood rites, the trophy head.
And still, he moves toward the glitter
as Beauty’s gown rustles in the room
and her hand carries his golden
candelabrum. In her possession
it becomes a lyre of heat, glowing in tunewith her melodic grace. He can feel
her music, touch the song. She will not
rebuff him. Her voice and heart flower
like the immaculate rose
As a man, standing in his garden
and pines filter the sun, he wonders
if this spell is truly broken. Will he remain
human with his handsome posture reflecting
a nobler soul? He looks toward the water.
A woman enters his reflection. Like a flute
she waits for his lips to ripple music
throughout her body, for him to accept his reprieve
and her admission of love. The pity
had perished long before the beast – was ever
changed back into a prince. But still he contemplates
the candor in her voice, the character in her eyes.
She moves closer. A hand rubs his shoulder
(where the sleeve has been torn on some briars)
and softly polishes the bone. A tender-- telling heat.
that will not fade with the evening light.
Note -- The lovely artwork depicting this fairytale film is by French artist,
Marie-France Riviere. More of her creative and graceful work can be viewed at
her on-line blog/gallery site here --