All supplements from the reissue DVD seem to have made it over starting with two audio commentaries, one by film scholar Arthur Knight and the other by writer and cultural historian Sir Christopher Frayling. The Knight track appeared on the original DVD as well, recorded originally for the laserdisc edition in 1991. Itís a fine enough track featuring Knight talking about the look of the film, the effects, the story, and itís place as a piece of art. He also refers to Cocteauís production diary, reading segments from it. It covers a vast amount of details but Knight is unfortunately a bit dry, sounding as though he is reading from notes.
Fraylingís track works a little better simply because it moves at a more brisk pace and doesnít feel to be scripted in anyway. He covers some of the same aspects but offers a bit more in the way of production history, some of the problems it faced, a look at the original tale, and Cocteauís work overall. Like Knightís itís a scholarly track but it flows quite a bit better and of the two I prefer this one.
Criterion next includes Philip Glassís Opera, which is an alternate audio track that plays over the film. As I understand it the film would be screened silently while the opera would be performed or played over it. The opera is in French but Criterion does include English subtitle translations. Itís an interesting idea and presentation, with the singing dubbing over the actual film dialogue, but in the end I canít say I cared all that much for it, finding it actually takes away from any impact the film had, despite some interesting things within it. The track is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround and does sound marvelous. Criterion also includes notes by Glass in the booklet.
Moving on we next get a documentary called Screening at the Majestic, the Majestic being the theater where Cocteau watched the dailies for the film. The 27-minute feature gathers interviews with cinematographer Henri Alekan, and actors Jean Marais and Mila Parely. Revisiting some of the locations used in the film the cast and crew recall the filming and Cocteauís work into the script. There are details about the effects with some minor explanations as to how they were accomplished, with a few sketches made during the production. There are a few surprises from the doc, specifically where some of the castle portions were shot. Though a lot of the Beastís castle was filmed on sets, exterior shots were filmed in Raray Park. Whatís so odd about this is how in the film it looks like a completely magical, almost surreal place, yet when we see it as it is now (and apparently it wasnít that different then) itís one of the least magical places I can imagine. Finishing off the doc thereís talk about the costumes and sets, and Alekan talks a lot about the lighting and the influences of certain paintings. Itís short but itís a great doc and seeing Marais and Parely watching a portion of the film together is a bit of a treat.
Up next we get a 9-minute interview with cinematographer Henri Alekman from a 1995 television program. He first starts with how he came to work on the film and then moves on to talking over a scene from the film, explaining how it was set up and done. He then closes with how the field has progressed in 50 years, newer technologies making things far easier to do now than they were then. Unfortunately brief but itís great to get him to at least break down a couple moments from the film and talk a little about his profession.
Secrets Prefessionels: TÍte ŗ TÍte is a 9-minute segment from a 1964 television program featuring make-up artist Hagop Arakelian. Here he gives a demonstration on how he applies general make-up to hide the imperfections the camera can pick up. He then gives a demonstration on how he can significantly change a subjectís face using prosthetics and other little tricks. Thereís a small bit where he talks about the make-up for Beauty and the Beast but this portion is brief. Despite this itís still worth viewing.
Criterion then closes off the release with a few minor additions starting with the filmís original 4-minute theatrical trailer, a newer restoration trailer, a restoration demonstration running 4-minutes (basically explaining how the filmís audio and video were restored with plenty of before-and-afters), and then a stills gallery with over 100 photos, including some of Marais getting his make-up applied and a few theatrical posters. The booklet includes an essay by Geoffrey OíBrien followed by a note by Cocteau which appeared in the filmís 1947 press book. Thereís also an excerpt from Francis Steegmullerís biography on Cocteau about the making of Beauty and the Beast, and then there is a note on the Philip Glass opera by the composer himself.
The original 1998 DVD also presented a translated version of the fable (as an on-disc feature) and then a short episode from a 1970ís television program called Cinematic Eye about the film. The latter one not being carried over isnít too big a problem as the new features better it but Iím surprised Criterion never ported over the fable translation.
Still, despite those losses, itís a pretty well-rounded edition, filled with a wealth of information. 8/10