Jean Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast is one of the most magical and enchanting films of all time. Before the days of CGI, modern effects and creature makeup, Cocteau magically brought to the screen a classic fairy tale along with Cocteau's devised camera trickery (which was done a lot by reversing the film) and astonishing special effects. The director Jean Cocteau did not necessarily look at himself as a film director, but more a poet, painter, sculpture and a surrealist who wrote plays and novels; and yet his cinematic adaptation of Beauty and the Beast became his most endearing and timeless creation.
Cocteau adapted the classic French fable at a time shortly after the suffering of World War II where people wanted to escape from the bleak horror's of reality. This is not a "children's movie," as Cocteau uses bold and haunting themes along with striking Freudian symbols that delve into the darker repressed emotions of its characters. Cocteau's version of Beauty and the Beast isn't just a fairy tale, but more a deeper and surrealistic poem which explored complex emotions through flamboyant images rather than simple words; and how true beauty can be in the eye of the beholder. Throughout the story they're extraordinary exquisite moments of wonder and awe and I would compare Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast to the childhood imagination of such enchanting classics like Victor Fleming's The Wizard of Oz and Powell and Pressburger's The Thief of Bagdad.