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Film

'Beauty and the Beast' remakes from soft porn to Disney musical

It's originally a French fairy tale written in the 18th century. From an erotic adults-only film to Disney's classic for the whole family, "Beauty and the Beast" has been revisited many times on the silver screen.

Among the slew of "Beauty and the Beast" versions, the one directed by Polish filmmaker Walerian Borowczyk stands out. The provocative director, who was a big name in European cinema in the 1970s, broke taboos with his soft porn film, "La Bête."

"The Beauty and the Beast" already had a strong erotic subtext. The classic tale explores how a relationship develops between a beautiful woman and an ugly creature, yet most filmmakers avoided all explicit depictions of the conclusion of their love - except Borowczyk, who chose to highlight it.

From a furry soft porn to family fun

At the time, a "New York Times" critic described "La Bête" as "a sleazy blend of fairy tale, Freudian foolishness and Eighth Avenue peep show."

That version definitely contrasts with the sweet family-friendly musical released by Walt Disney in 1991. It is the one that inspired Disney's latest live-action remake, directed by Bill Condon and starring Emma Watson in the lead role.

Emma Watson stars in 'Beauty and the Beast' (Walt Disney)

Emma Watson stars in "Beauty and the Beast"

In the film that opens this week around the world, including in Germany and the US, one is never quite sure where there's actually more "live action" than animation, as it includes many computer-generated scenes. The combination of real actors and CGI is an essential recipe for a blockbuster these days.

A classic by Jean Cocteau

Between these two poles are numerous filmed versions of the traditional fairy tale from the 18th century. Some focus on its poetry or its fantasy; some modernize the story; others are old-fashioned.

For many fans, the ultimate classic version was the one directed by French artist and filmmaker Jean Cocteau in 1946. This film avoids revealing everything, focusing on the poetic atmosphere of the story. "The New York Times" was enthralled by this version, praising it as "a fabric of gorgeous visual metaphors, of undulating movements and rhythmic pace, of hypnotic sounds and music, of casually congealing ideas."

Click through the gallery above for a closer look at the current "Beauty and the Beast" film and its predecessors.

 

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