Beauty and the Beast
Analysis by Boyd Rice
Jean Cocteau once said that, "history consists of truths which in the end turn into lies, while myth consists of lies which finally turn into truths." Akin to myth is the fairy tale, which conceals a secret doctrine of sub rosa history within the context of a seemingly innocuous children's story. Cocteau undoubtedly understood full well the power of myth, and the true function of the fairy tale. Like the songs of the troubadours, fairy tales were the repository of a secret tradition. They preserved, in mytho-poetic symbolism, the true history of the world, and the forbidden wisdom that religious orthodoxy sought to eradicate. Tales like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty had specifically to do with the Grail mystery, and with the antagonism between the Grail family and the Church of Rome. Beauty and the Beast was related to this theme as well, but was perhaps more far-reaching in its implications. Cocteau not only understood these implications implicitly, but was able to deftly establish them, both fine-tuning and magnifying the depth of the inherent symbolism. Though he protests that there is no symbolism to be found within his film of Beauty and the Beast, and that it is simply a yarn designed to transport one back to the wondrous realm of youth and fantasy, dont believe it for a second. This film is rich with symbolism, and reveals Cocteau as a master of symbolism.
The films most straight-forward metaphors can be seen in the house of the Beast, which is irrefutably Luciferian. The interior is lavish, yet stark, and darkly lit. The living arms holding aloft candelabras unmistakably call to mind the very meaning of Lucifer as the "light bearer." Though he is a beast, he is a beautiful beast, and is attired in the garments befitting a wealthy aristocrat, or perhaps nobility. And despite his bestial character, his demeanor towards beauty is uniformly chivalrous, reflecting an old tradition which says, "The devil is always a gentleman."
So if the Beast is emblematic of Lucifer, who then is Beauty? Answer: a Christ figure. This is not as improbable as it may at first sound. The central paradox of Christianity is that although its staunchly patriarchal, it is nonetheless an intrinsically feminine creed. One would expect that a philosophy which had its origins in the worship of a divine couple, and then focused single-mindedly upon a father god (or his son) would be far more masculine in character - and Christianity is anything but. Beautys sisters are greedy, haughty and imperious. They are more concerned with matters relating to their own self-aggrandizement and self-interests than with the ongoing tide of calamities befalling their aging father. For them, his misfortunes only constitute a major inconvenience that is disrupting their lavish lifestyles. These two sisters could be seen as reflective of Catholicism and Protestantism, two religious institutions widely perceived to be more interested in amassing wealth and personal power than in pursuing the creeds that they purport to be in service of. Perhaps the depiction of these sisters as old maids is a joke about the vows of celibacy required by Catholicism. Beauty, in contrast, remains pure, and is the true servant of her father. When a handsome young man (Avenant) asks her to marry him, she refuses, saying:, "I prefer to remain in my fathers house."
The magic mirror employed so prominently in the film is a favorite device of Cocteaus. The mirror represents the other, the opposite, and Cocteau sometimes employs it as a gateway to other worlds - specifically, the Underworld. In this film, the magic mirror is said to reflect ones true nature. So when Beauty gazes into it to see her dying father, this seems to confirm our hypothesis that Beauty could well be emblematic of Christ, and this scene would then be suggestive of the symbiotic union between Christ and God the Father. Significantly, Beauty also saw herself reflected as the Beast.
\When the magic mirror is broken, and the Beasts magic key is stolen, he begins to grow weak and die. When Ludovic and Avenant both mount Magnificent and set out to steal the Beasts treasures, the image of the two of them riding on a single horse is surely a reference to the Knights Templar, and to their possession of secrets and relics relating to the Grail.
When the horned statue of Diana comes to life to thwart the intruders who trespass into her pavilion the implication seems to be that the old gods and goddesses may be looked on by the modern world as antiques, ideas only preserved in statue form, yet they live on. The forces that these statues represent still constitute a tangible reality, and remain forces to contend with.