German Expressionists {Bambi is an expressionist novel)rnplumbed the depths of sadness and suffering in both the animalrnand human wodd. “All being is suffering” is the mottornborne bv Franz Marc’s painting of the death of animals. Whatrnstrong heart among us remains unmoved by the death ofrnBambi’s mother?rnSadness, too, is a strong element in the fairy tale, or morernproperly the folktale, and Disney often increases the sadness byrntightening up the story lines and giving them a definite timeframe.rnFor instance, in Beauty and the Beast the prince has arntime-limit on his redemption: he must make someone lovernhim before the last petal falls from a rose.rnMuch of the power of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast mayrnderive from its primary source of cinematic influence, JeanrnCocteau’s 1946 La Belle et la bete. First, Disnev borrowsrnsome of its best visual effects from Cocteau, in fact some ofrnhis most famous theatrical and cinematic inventions. Thernoverall dark tone of Disney’s version and its phantasmagoricalrnarchitecture is also reminiscent of Cocteau, who shot mostrnof his exteriors among the bizarre animal sculptures of thernchateau at Raray. Disney’s talking objects, the clock and therncandlestick, the teapot, cup, wardrobe, and all the rest, alsornfind their source in La Belle et la bete. In Cocteau’s film, therninvisible hands described in the original fairy tale become terriblyrnvisible, but disembodied. Real arms sprout from wallsrnand tables to hold candelabra or pour drinks; caryatids whoserneyes follov- La Bete’s measured courtship breathe out smoke atrnappropriate moments; La Belle’s bed unmakes itself to receivernher, and most important for Disney, her mirror and therndoor of her room explain themselves to her in disembodiedrnvoices. The helpful, magical talking object is of course a staplernor a stock character in the folktale as Robert Darnton explainsrnin ‘I’he Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in FrenchrnCultural History, a French story in which the Devil’s daughterrnand her lover make a daring escape by the clever ruse of leavingrntwo talking pates in their beds to make their excuses. Perhapsrnthey are the ancestors of Disney’s Food Folics-Bergere.rnAs for the story line itself, the Disney version also borrowsrnheavily from Cocteau. Cocteau transformed Madame Leprincernde Beaumont’s original story considerabh: hers wasrnthe familiar, pleasant, moralizing tale of outward ugliness andrninner beauty, demonstrating the importance of looking beyondrnexternals to the beauty of the spirit. Behind it, however,rnlurks the original folktale of the animal bridegroom, anrnarchctpe that deals with woman’s revulsion from the malernand her reconciliation with him. In these stories, the beastbridegroom,rna caricature of the male, shocks and horrifies hisrnbride with his violence, his aggression, his hairiness, even whilernattracting her. She tames and gentles him and comes to lovernhim. taking a certain pleasure in his force. It is so, as BrunornBettelheim maintains, that the types of the folktale prepare itsrnhearers for the real events of their lives.rnCocteau as a surrealist returns to this mythic dimension ofrnthe story, to explore and make real images of the unconsciousrnand the deep and mysterious currents of human existence.rnCocteau is the first to split up the good and bad qualities ofrnthe male and female archetypes between, on the one hand. LarnBelle’s family and friends, representing the mundane and reprehensible,rnand on the other. La Belle herself and her Bete, thernembodiments of essential man and woman in relationship.rnThe two sisters arc vain and frivolous, silly, mean, all thernstereotypes we dislike in women, while La Belle is their opposingrncounterpart, modest, serious, gentle, loyal, loving, compassionate,rnin short, beautiful. Similarly, Cocteau divides thernmale persona between the ineffectual father, the rascally butrnattractive up-and-comer Avenant, the brother Ludovic in thernrole of Best Buddy, and naturally La Bete. Cocteau’s charactersrnare not fully realized, nor are they meant to be. Theyrnare recognizable stock characters, who fall somewhere on therncontinuum between archetype and caricature, quite appropriaternto the fairy tale. Because his characters are stock types,rnCocteau can even get away with the stereotyped Jewishrnmoneylender, rather an audacious stroke in the France of 1946.rnYet no one takes offense: the immediately recognizable typernsimply symbolizes the predicament into which La Belle’s fatherrnhas fallen.rnBecause he uses the stock types of the fairy tale as his mainrncharacters, Cocteau can more safely investigate the archetypalrnrelationship between man and woman, that is, between herrnbeauty and his beastliness. For Cocteau’s La Bete is indeed arnbeast. Unlike Leprince de Beaumont’s gentle monster,rnCocteau’s La Bete pricks up his ears at the whiff of passingrngame, leaves mangled animals on the grass, comes in bloodyrnfrom the kill with his hands smoking, and, while resplendent inrnChristian Berard’s silk and velvets, is wondrously furred andrnfanged, inarticulate, full of depths of violence and aggression.rnStill, aware of his own beastliness, he is unnerved bv La Bellernand cannot bear to look her in the eyes. In turn she looks atrnhim first with fear and loathing, then takes pity on him, lettingrnhim drink from her cupped hands rather than lap water from arnpool like an animal. From pity springs compassion, and fromrnthat, affection and an eventual admission of love.rnHere then is the ancestor of the central premise of the Disneyrnversion. Disney’s Beast is not particularly pleasant at thernbeginning: he and the village suitor share the most obnoxiousrncharacter traits of the male. While Gaston is simply a machornpig who can think of nothing but hunting, fighting, and himself.rnBeast is initially even worse. He embodies, and so in arnsense caricatures, the violence of the male. He terrifies everyonernwho encounters him by his appearance (half buffalo,rnhalf lion) and temper. It is his violence that repels Belle, yet itrnsaves her life. Beast rescues Belle when she flees his castlernand is attacked b’ wolves, but only at the cost of the rending ofrnhis own body. She nurses him back to health and slowly gentlesrnhim. The movie is full of sentimental, but very true,rnsongs about the “tale as old as time,” the transforming powersrnof love on the rough male character.rnBeast, respecting her intellect, gives Beauty access to hisrnlibrary, which is on the scale of the Bibliotheque Nationale,rnand falls in love with her. He lets her go to rescue her father,rnalthough he knows that time has run out and that he will stayrna beast forever. The villagers attack him, led by Gaston, in arnscene taken from the attacks on Frankenstein’s and Dracula’srncastles. Gaston attacks the despairing Beast, who does notrnfight back, until he sees that Belle has returned. He vanquishesrnGaston, but Gaston stabs him in the back. Gastonrnfalls to his death, but Beast dies, too.rnCocteau’s scene of the death of La Bete played further onrnhis division of the male persona into Avenant and La Bete.rnAt the end, Avenant, who would take La Bete’s treasure andrnmagic by force, is shot and transformed by magical powersrninto a monster like La Bete, while La Bete, redeemed by LarnBelle’s admission of love, transmutes into the Prince, played byrnJean Marais, who also played Avenant. While admitting herrnMARCH 1993/21rnrnrn