La Belle est la Bête: Cocteau's Hybrid Human-Animals (Article, 2013) [WorldCat.org]
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La Belle est la Bête: Cocteau's Hybrid Human-Animals
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La Belle est la Bête: Cocteau's Hybrid Human-Animals

Author: Catherine S Webster
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication:Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, v17 n3 (June 2013): 258-264
Other Databases: WorldCatWorldCat
Summary:
Abstract Within Jean Cocteau's varied æuvre, we find a number of hybrid characters: the Sphinx and a centaur-like horse/man first appear in the plays “La Machine Infernale” and “Orphée” respectively and then reappear in Cocteau's final film, Le Testament d’Orphée. But his most famous hybrid creature manifests in La Belle et la bête: La Bête is alternatively human and animal. Animal ferocity masks la  Read more...
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Details

Document Type: Article
All Authors / Contributors: Catherine S Webster
ISSN:1740-9292
Language Note: English
Unique Identifier: 5136113756
Awards:

Abstract:

Abstract Within Jean Cocteau's varied æuvre, we find a number of hybrid characters: the Sphinx and a centaur-like horse/man first appear in the plays “La Machine Infernale” and “Orphée” respectively and then reappear in Cocteau's final film, Le Testament d’Orphée. But his most famous hybrid creature manifests in La Belle et la bête: La Bête is alternatively human and animal. Animal ferocity masks la Bête's inner beauty, much as an elaborate mask conceals the physical beauty of actor Jean Marais. La Bête, perhaps Cocteau's best-known creation, exists in a liminal state that inspires first fear, but later affection and even love. As in the original narrative by Madame Leprince de Beaumont, when la Bête transforms into Prince Charming, Belle is confused and perhaps even deceived; she loves the animal, not the human who appears before her. After examining early depictions of human-animal figures in his theatrical works and films, this paper focused on Cocteau's imagining of la Bête as a profound depiction of hybridity. Ultimately, these hybrid creatures underscore a theme that pervades Cocteau's æuvre: a true love relationship is all but impossible in this life because of myriad obstacles; the hybrid condition serves as yet another barrier to be overcome.

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