If all you know about Beauty and the Beast is the Disney version, seek this film out right away. not only was Disney "inspired" by the Jean Cocteau version (which predates it by over forty years) but some of the visuals were directly lifted. Upon my first viewing of this magical film, I was blown away by pretty much every aspect of the film. To make things even better, the second Criterion release includes the Phillip Glass opera as an optional audio track. for me, this film opened the gateway for my love of the films of Jean Cocteau, from Blood of a Poet onward. 'Tis a pity he wasn't a more prolific filmmaker, but maybe this just makes one appreciate his output all the more. His films don't feel rushed, or lag, but seem to have an organic quality where they are just perfect. Beauty and the Beast is no exception, and it all begins with a small essay on a blackboard, invoking that "Open sesame" of childhood, "Once upon a time..."
The true love of a beautiful woman restores a beast to the handsome young prince he was, before a spell was cast on him.