With its enchanted castle, home to fantastic living statuary, and director Jean Cocteau’s lover Jean Marais starring as a Beast who is at once brutal and gentle, rapacious and vulnerable, shamed and repelled by his own bloodlust, this remains a high point of the cinematic Gothic imagination. As Marina Warner has written, ‘The film unfolds to a perfectly poised slow tempo in surreal settings that gain intensity from the fabulous décor and costumes, the glittering lighting and the many moments of magic effects. The candle-lit shadow-play deepens the Gothic atmosphere of the beast’s castle, harking back to early expressionist classics of the genre.’
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