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Products for grant FT-58197-10

Une Exception Francaise: From Playwright to Filmmaker in Mid-20th Century France
Catherine Webster, University of Central Oklahoma

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“La Belle est la bête: Cocteau's hybrid human-animals.” (Article)
Title: “La Belle est la bête: Cocteau's hybrid human-animals.”
Author: Catherine Webster
Abstract: Within Jean Cocteau’s varied oeuvre, we find a number of human-animal hybrid characters: The sphinx and a centaur-like horseman first appear in the plays “La Machine Infernale” and “Orphée,” respectively and then reappear in Cocteau’s final film, Le Testament d’Orphée. These creatures are depicted in the framework of the well-known myths of Orpheus and Oedipus, yet Cocteau incorporates them in ways that surprise and destabilize the spectator. Another, more famous hybrid creature manifests in La Belle et la bête, as the Beast is both human and animal, just not at the same time. His animal ferocity masks la Bête’s inner beauty, much as the elaborate beastly mask conceals the physical beauty of actor Jean Marais. The enduring character of la Bête, perhaps Cocteau’s best-known creation, is in a liminal state that inspires first fear, but later affection and even love. As in the original narrative by Madame Leprince de Beaumont, la Belle is confused by the appearance of Prince Charming after having declared her love for la Bête; it is the animal that she loves, not the human before her. This paper examines Cocteau’s early depictions of human-animal figures in his theatrical works and films, then focuses on la Bête as a profound depiction of hybridity.
Year: 2013
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Website for Sites Journal
Secondary URL:
Secondary URL Description: downloadable article from worldcat
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Contemporary French and Francophone Studies: Sites
Publisher: Contemporary French and Francophone Studies: Sites