Welcome to Framed, a column at Cinematical that runs every Thursday and celebrates the artistry of cinema -- one frame at a time.
To say that Jean Cocteau suffered for his art is an understatement, as evidenced by his account of the making of his surreal masterpiece, 1946's 'Beauty and the Beast.' In 'Diary of a Film,' Cocteau recounts a list of never-ending hurdles that plagued the French fairy tale film. Interestingly enough, many of these difficulties managed to transform themselves into something poetic, enhancing the movie's magical premise.
Production started after the war, and the director faced difficulty gathering the materials he needed, including enough of the same film stock to complete the lavish picture. The various textures worked to Cocteau's advantage, however, adding a certain depth to the striking visuals.
Electricity was scarce and several of the crew had to work by candlelight, which seems lyrical considering the appearance of candles throughout the movie.
During the production, an intensely painful skin condition and other illnesses hospitalized Cocteau. The director tried to be diplomatic about his suffering, given star Jean Marais' extensive and uncomfortable makeup application to transform into the Beast. Although the "cracks, wounds and itches" and his "bleeding hands" plagued Cocteau, "the face and the hands of Jean Marais [were] covered with a so painful crust" serving as a humble reminder of their mutual suffering. I suppose it helps that they were lovers. It's said that Cocteau's disfiguring disease may have helped shape the creation of the Beast, which the director seemed to profoundly identify with.