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  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • French Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
  • Audio Commentary by film historian Arthur Knight
  • A documentary about the film and the fable
  • The original fable translated into English

Beauty and the Beast

1998 Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Jean Cocteau
Starring: Jean Marais, Josette Day, Mila Parély, Nane Germon, Michel Auclair, Raoul Marco, Marcel André
1946 | 93 Minutes | Licensor: Lopert Films

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #6 | Out of print
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: June 2, 1998
Review Date: January 14, 2012

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This masterpiece by the poet of cinema, Jean Cocteau, has enchanted audiences for more than fifty years with its surreal beauty and magical visual effects. Josette Day and Jean Merais shine in the definitive filmed version of the classic romantic tale.

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Criterionís original DVD edition of Jean Cocteauís Beauty and the Beast presents the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on a single-layer disc.

This is one of the worst looking transfers in the collection. Though restored the condition of the print is still dreadful, with marks raining through constantly, ranging from dirt to scratches to tears to pulsating and flickering. All of it is also heavy and really hampers one viewing. To make matters worse the transfer itself is lousy. Itís noisy and heavily compressed which makes the already soft image even fuzzier.

To be fair the film has always been in rough shape and even a recent Blu-ray edition from Criterion, using a new restoration, still has problems. But the digital transfer, which creates a jerky image, makes it hard to watch. It really looks lousy and was much in need of an upgrade.


All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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Audio is also not much better. Dialogue sounds rough and edgy, and the music is harsh and ear-piercing. Noise litters the tracks as do pops and a hiss. Itís a hard one to listen to.



The DVD basically ports everything from the previous laserdisc edition released by Criterion. First is an audio commentary by Arthur Knight. Itís a fine enough track featuring Knight talking about the look of the film, the effects, the story, and itís place as a piece of art. He also refers to Cocteauís production diary, reading segments from it. It covers a vast amount of details but Knight is unfortunately a bit dry, sounding as though he is reading from notes.

After this is a text feature that presents a translation of the original fable on which the film is based. Itís lengthy and you scroll through it using the arrows on your remote.

Following this is a 20-minute ĒdocumentaryĒ as itís labeled on the menu, which is a segment from public access show called Cinematic Eye, this one devoted to Cocteau and Beauty and the Beast. The piece is a pretty basic look at Cocteauís work and some of the tricks used on Beauty and the Beast. Itís a fine enough feature despite its host lack of presence, but the feature (which is missing from any of the future Criterion editions) was bettered.

Following this is a 4-minute restoration demonstration which looks at the improvements made. You really get to see just how bad this was originally (huge tears have been removed) but as evidenced there was still plenty wrong that they never got to.

The insert then concludes the set with a short essay by Francis Steegmuller.

And thatís it. A decent enough early edition but it would be bettered by the newer DVD and Blu-ray editions.



It looks terrible, sounds terrible, and only has lackluster features. Newer editions from Criterion offer better image and sound and more immersive features (though only the commentary gets carried over.) Not worth it even if you find it cheap.

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