Repertory Picks

Cocteau Casts a Spell in Kentucky

Next Wednesday, Lexington’s Kentucky Theatre hosts a magical evening with Jean Cocteau’s 1946 romantic fantasy Beauty and the Beast. Starring Josette Day and Cocteau’s muse and partner, Jean Marais, in the title roles, this adaptation of Mme. Leprince de Beaumont’s beloved fairy tale is a feast of sublime imagery that showcases the great French auteur at the height of his imaginative powers. Though Cocteau denied ever aiming for poetry—“the mere whispered mention of its name frightens it away,” he said—his genius for transporting viewers to otherworldly realms continues to serve as an inspiration for filmmakers exploring the lyrical possibilities of the art form. As Geoffrey O’Brien notes in his essay for our release, “When it comes to ‘fairy-tale movies’—if such a genre exists as something other than a profit center for the Disney corporation—there is Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast and then there is everything else.” For more on Cocteau and Marais, check out the most recent episode of the Criterion Channel series Creative Marriages, which pays tribute to their legendary on- and offscreen partnership.

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