AURIC: La Belle et la Bete
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Georges Auric (1899-1983)
Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la B?¬te)
Complete Film Score, 1946The Film
Once upon a time there was a Merchant who had a son,Ludovic, and three daughters, Felicie, Adelaide andBelle. The last of these was handsome, modest andsympathetic, and therefore the Cinderella of the family.
One day the old man went away on business, eventuallylearning that he has lost all his money. On his wayhome he becomes lost in a forest and in his wanderingcomes upon a splendid and mysterious castle. Entering,he falls asleep at a sumptuously laid table. Thefollowing morning, woken by distant roaring, he makeshis escape through the park, picking a rose, the presenthe has promised his daughter Belle. At this momentthe Beast appears in front of him, a horrifying creaturedressed as a prince, who tells him that he must die forhis theft, unless one of his daughters will take his place.
After his return home on the back of Magnificent, aflying horse, the Merchant tells his family of thisstrange adventure and Belle at once offers herself insacrifice for her father's life. Avenant, a friend ofLudovic, who is in love with Belle, objects, but the girlsecretly makes her own way to the castle and afterwandering for a long time through its magic rooms andcorridors, she meets the Beast, who treats hercourteously and showers her with precious gifts. Bellerealises that the Beast has a kind heart and she suffersbecause of his ugliness. She learns, however, that thesentence of death will be cancelled, if she agrees tomarry the Beast, but this she cannot do.
Belle is homesick and this and the news that herfather is ill persuades the Beast to allow her to go homefor eight days. As a token of his love for her he givesher magic objects, the secrets of his power, among thema glove, a looking-glass and a golden key. Ludovic andAvenant are excited at Belle's return in a fine dress anddecked out in jewels. At the instigation of Felicie andAdelaide they steal the key, mount the magic horse andfly to the castle, planning to kill the Beast and seize histreasure. Belle's compassion for the Beast, her gaoler,has reached a state approaching love. In the magiclooking-glass she sees the lonely, weeping Beast and bymeans of the magic glove instantly has herselftransported back to the castle. She finds the Beastsuffering in the park, while, in a nearby pavilion intowhich Ludovic and Avenant are climbing from the roof,a statue of Diana comes to life. Avenant is killed by anarrow from the bow of the goddess and is changed intothe form of the Beast, while the Beast, to whom Bellehas confessed her love, promising to marry him, diesand comes to life again, transformed into a PrinceCharming looking like Avenant. He quells Belle'sastonishment and her initial disappointment at havinglost her mysterious companion by promising to takeher away to a kingdom where she will be a great queen.
Jean Cocteau's adaptation of the original fairy-taleby Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont (1711-1780)was shot between August 1945 and May 1946 in thedifficult post-war period after the so-called ?óge d'orau cinema fran?ºais, the golden age of the Frenchcinema, which saw the production of Marcel Carne'sLes Enfants au Paradis and Les Visiteurs au soir. It isastonishing to remember that Cocteau's film was madeunder considerable pressure on a very small budget andby a cineaste who in the early 1930s had produced asurrealist picture for insiders Le Sang d'un Po?¿te andcollaborated as script-writer on some four other films,but enjoyed a reputation principally as a poet. La Belleet la B?¬te only slowly won international renown,whereas today his name is associated above all withthis film. Cocteau, who directed the picture with theassistance of Rene CIement, was at a difficult period ofhis life, suffering bouts of illness that led on occasionsto hospital treatment. In his book La Belle et la B?¬te:Journal d'un film, published in 1947, he gives a movingand passionate account of the making of the film andthere are further valuable accounts of the productionfrom the cameraman Henri Alekan and from AndreFraigneau, the latter recalling a conversation withCocteau on his film-making and on his collaborationwith Georges Auric.
Josette Day's unforgettable interpretation of ther??le of Beauty and the cinematic debut of Jean Maraisas the Beast, with the marvellous camera-work of HenriAlekan and the sets of Christian Berard, make this oneof the most memorable films, to which the sumptuouslyscored music of Georges Auric makes a significant andvaluable contribution.The Composer
Georges Auric studied at the Conservatoires ofMontpellier and Paris and finally at the ScholaCantorum with Vincent d'Indy. In his early twentieshe joined the composers Darius Milhaud, FrancisPoulenc, Louis Durey and Germaine Tailleferre to formthe famous Groupe des Six, of which Cocteau was apatron. Auric's talents are to be found predominantlyin his music for the theatre and the screen. In additionto his ballets Les Matelots, Pastorale, Les Enchantementsde la Fee Akine, La Concurrence, LesImaginaires, Le Peintre et son Mod?¿le, Ph?¿dre (on alibretto by Cocteau), Chemin de Lumi?¿re, La Chambreand Euridice written for the ballet companies of SergeyDyagilev, Ida Rubinstein and David Lichine, hisincidental scores and his opera Sous le masque, Auric'scredits as a composer can be found on some fortyFrench, forty American and fifteen British films. As awriter of both complete scores and of songs, Auriccollaborated during almost half a century with suchdirectors as Marc Allegret, Jean Delannoy, Henri-Georges Clouzot, Max Oph??ls, William Wyler, JohnHouston, Otto Preminger, Charles Crichton, ThoroldDickinson, Terence Young and Henry Cornelius.
Among his best known scores for British and Americanfilms are Passport to Pimlico (1949), The LavenderHill Mob (1951), Moulin Rouge (1952), RomanHoliday (1953), Bonjour Tristesse (1957), TheHunchback of Notre-Dame (1957) and The Innocents(1961). Above all, however, Auric is to be rememberedfor his unique collaboration with Jean Cocteau,including six films that were directed by Cocteauhimself (Le Sang d'un Po?¿te, La Belle et la B?¬te, LesParents Terribles, L'Aigle ?á deux T?¬tes, Orphee andLe Testament d'Orphee) and three directed by others,but with Cocteau as a script-writer (L'Eternel Retour,Ruy Blas and Thomas l'Imposteur).The Music
Cocteau approached Auric on the matter of a score forLa Belle et la B?¬te on Christmas Day 1945. Since thesynchronization of his film had to be finished in April1946, there was little time left for the composition andorchestration of a score of such dimensions. Thedirector had full confidence in the composer since theirearly collaboration on Le Sang d'un Po?¿te (1930) andtherefore found it unnecessary to give him detailedinstructions on where and how to score. Unlike themusic of the earlier film, subject to Cocteau's dictatorialand almost abusive approach, Auric's music for LaBelle et la B?¬te, played by a symphony orchestra underRoger Desormi?¿re, unsynchronized and contrasting,gave the picture new and fascinating dimensions. Itsown \musical background", as Cocteau called it, presetthrough the images and their editing, seemed at first tobe endangered by Auric's highly atmospheric score,but the conceptions of director and composer would atthe end come together on two different levels, expressingboth the same thing and eventually"neutralising each other", as Cocteau finally declared.
In some particular cues, the director had been able topersuade the composer to stop or interrupt the music atonce, in order to obtain the dramatic effect of silence.
Auric's score consists of 24 musical cues. Itsoverall orchestration includes thr