Director: Jean Cocteau.
Starring: Jean Marais, Josette Day, Mila Parély.
France 1946. 95 mins. French with English subtitles.
Despite the stringent conditions of its making in post-liberation France, Cocteau’s exquisite version of the 18th-century fairy tale remains one of the greatest films of the fantasy genre. Beauty gives herself to the Beast who has held her father to ransom. Through love, and to her slight disappointment, he turns into a handsome prince. Romantic, erotic, hallucinatory and almost tragic, this is an intelligent, grown-up retelling of a ‘children’s’ tale.
Director: Isao Takahata.
Japan 2013. 137 mins.
Please check in cinema whether the subtitled or English-language version is showing.
This timeless masterpiece from the legendary Studio Ghibli is based on a tenth–century Japanese fable. A peasant discovers a miniature girl growing inside a bamboo shoot and takes her home.
She quickly grows to become the most beautiful young woman in the land, and is wooed by a series of suitors, including the Emperor himself. But it soon emerges that she is in fact exiled from the Moon, to which she is bound one day to return.
This haunting story is brought to the screen by Ghibli co-founder and genius animator Isao Takahata (GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES), and is undoubtedly one of the studio’s finest works. Exquisitely drawn in a style that recalls washed-out Japanese watercolours, the story is spellbinding and melancholic – an instant classic.
Director: Neil Jordan.
Starring: Angela Lansbury, Sarah Patterson, Graham Crowden, Brian Glover. UK 1984. 95 mins.
A fascinating and imaginative interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood and werewolf fables, adapted by Angela Carter from her own story.
When Rosaleen (Patterson), a young teenage girl, goes to stay with her granny (Lansbury), she’s regaled with strange, disturbing tales about innocent maidens falling in love with handsome strangers, and about sudden disappearances of spouses around full moon. When she sleeps she enters a nightmarish yet alluring dream world populated by werewolves, and her magical encounters become ever more fantastical as they give expression to her burgeoning sexuality. Meanwhile there are rumours that a real-life wolf has begun stalking the dark forest next to Rosaleen’s home.
Haunting, compelling, eerie and erotic, The Company Of Wolves defies easy categorisation. Drawing on everything from German Expressionism to early Disney, this is a film that very much builds its own world, somewhere between terror and whimsy. It’s an intensely visual exploration of folklore, sexuality, and humankind’s relationship with the animal world.
Introduced by Dr Charlotte Crofts, Associate Professor of Filmmaking at the University Of The West Of England and author of a book on Angela Carter’s writing for radio, film and television, Anagrams Of Desire.
Angela Carter, born in Eastbourne in 1940, is widely recognised as one of the greatest, most imaginative writers of the 20th century. The Invention Of Angela Carter, the much-anticipated biography by Edmund Gordon, has just been published by Chatto & Windus.
Supervising Director: David Hand.
Voices: Adriana Caselotti, Lucille La Verne, Pinto Colvig.
USA 1937. 83 mins.
Eighty years after release, Walt Disney’s first ground-breaking animated cartoon feature continues to captivate audiences young and old with its unique blend of fairy tale, fantasy, laughter, thrills and tears. Boldly reworking the Brothers Grimm tale, this hand-crafted Technicolor masterpiece was the gorgeous result of the years of love bestowed upon it by perfectionist Disney and his dedicated studio team. By turns charming, creepy, cute and comical - and jam-packed with wonderful characters - this evergreen story of a beautiful princess, a wicked witch and those dauntless dwarfs took the world by storm, and remains a timeless treat for all the family.
Director: Francesco Stefani.
Starring: Christel Bodenstein, Charles Hans Vogt, Eckart Dux, Richard Krüger.
East Germany 1957. 71 mins. English narrated version.
A proud and beautiful princess is punished for her arrogance when a bewitched suitor (in the form of a bear) steals her away to an enchanted garden. There, through a series of gripping trials, she learns that kindness, humility and bravery are the routes to friendship, love and happiness. Inspired by stories by the Brothers Grimm, this East German fairy tale enchanted a generation when broadcast as a three-part black-and-white miniseries under the BBC’s ‘Tales from Europe’ banner in the 1960s. Today’s viewers are in for an even greater treat; prepare to be bowled over by the original feature’s joyous riot of colour.
Director: Frank Capra.
Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore. USA. 130 mins.
One of the most popular and enduring films ever made, Frank Capra's IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE is a gloriously sentimental testament to homely small-town moral values.
Masterfully crafted, the film opens with angels discussing George Bailey (James Stewart), a man so beset with problems that he contemplates a Christmas-time suicide. As George prepares to jump from a bridge his guardian angel Clarence Oddbody intervenes and shows him how badly Bedford Falls would have turned out without his good deeds. Filled with a renewed joy of life George returns to his family for Christmas.
James Stewart gives one of his finest, most affecting performances and the film looks better than ever in its new restoration.