Cocteau portrays the Beast in La Belle et La Bete as a fleeting image, that is, he affects the film without spending too much time on the screen. Rather then physically emerging, the Beast's effects are psychological as the anguish of Belle and her family helps the audience to form an opinion of the Beast. By creating a dark and mysterious aura around the Beast, Cocteau affectively keeps the watcher enthralled by what he cannot see. The Beast only visits Beauty once during this day, and the anticipation of his arrival not only affects Beauty but the viewer as well.
The audience begins to wonder where the Beast is for most of the day and what he does. Yet unknowingly, the audience falls in love with the character realizing that he may be a Beast on the outside but he is gentle within. Not only does his demeanor captivate Beauty, it also affects the audience. This is important in the development of all versions of the story. Once Beauty looks beyond the grimacing face, she finds a gentle soul.
The lurking figure of the Beast is frequent in society today. Films often portray this figure in order to create suspense, a misunderstood shadow figure in society. Similarly, literature often uses the Beast to play off of other characters similar to the way Cocteau does with Beauty.
There are various other instances of the... [continues]
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