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Mise en Scene in La Belle et la Bete

Page history last edited by Ian Stephens 14 years, 6 months ago

This entry will focus on the mise-en-scene seen specifically in Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bete. To learn more about mise-en-scene in general please follow this link.


Costumes and Makeup


Creating a fantasy world to absorb and entice viewers would not be complete without the use of excellent costuming and makeup artistry. Rich, textured fabrics and added touches of rhinestones and glitter transform the basic wolf-man into la Bete, the beast to fall in love with. La Bete’s character is enriched by way of the costume design. Not only does the way in which la Bete carries himself as he walks speak to the regality of his character, but the clothing of la Bete makes the picture complete.


In this picture of la Bete we immediately know that he is a member of the upper class, and he is a character that enjoys the comforts and finer things in life associated with wealth. This information can all be concluded based on the still image of la Bete in costume. 




Images of Belle before and after entering the world of la Bete in the castle can also be seen here. The use of costume as well as the hair styling for Belle’s character adds to the story of a young peasant girl getting the chance to be given the possessions and lifestyle of a princess when she is dropped into the world of la Bete. This story is immediately brought to mind simply by looking at before and after still images of Belle.






A discussion of mise-en-scene in La Belle et la Bete would not be complete without touching on the magical makeup applied to Jean Marais to appear as la Bete. Tim Brayton discusses the design of la Bete flawlessly in his blog when he quotes, “I shall run the risk of hyperbole, and claim that the beast mask is the single greatest make-up effect of all time - if not necessarily the most strictly realistic, surely the most magnificent in effect, frightening us and seducing us in one breath, begging to be touched as much as anything in any film ever has been (1).” Below is an image which shows more detail of la Bete's makeup in the film.



Set Design


Jean Cocteau exemplifies the fact that sets need not be complex and elaborate to make a scene in a film spectacular. The castle sets (like the entry set seen in the upper image below) in the film are incredibly minimal and cause the viewer to focus on the few but important items placed in front of the camera or the characters present in the scene. Even the sets which are comparably more detailed (such as the dinner table set seen below) remain relatively simple and allow the focus to center on the acting and the special effects being seen rather than causing distraction by gaudy set design in the background.








The lighting page of this wiki has an example of the lighting effects used in La Belle et la Bete. Learn about it here. 


Works Consulted


1. Brayton, Tim. "TSPDT #190: La Belle et la Bete." Antagony & Ecstasy. June 16, 2008. Web. October 6, 2009.

Comments (2)

Sean Desilets said

at 9:26 pm on Oct 7, 2009

* Great use of images
* Looking at that bit on lighting in B & B on the lighting page, I think we could be more specific about the lighting itself and about its effects there
* Another feature of the Beast-world mise-en-scene is its insistent anti-realism--it emphasizes the studies artificiality of the beast's world.

Nykki Montano said

at 9:42 pm on Oct 6, 2009

I added the lighting part just as an extra but much more could be said on the subject, but I ran out of words.

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