LA BELLE ET LA BÊTE

THE STORY

 

Catherine Chandler (Linda Hamilton) is a young socialite lawyer in NYC.

Vincent (Ron Perlman) a mysterious man with leonine features, lives hidden in the tunnels under the city, among a small community of outcasts. 

They live in separate worlds, but when their paths meet, their destinies bond together forever.


 

Ron Koslow, the series' creator, says he found his inspiration in Madame Leprince de Beaumont's classic fairytale, as well as in the Cocteau movie.

One can also detect some similarity with the theme of Gaston Leroux's novel "Le Fantôme de l'Opéra" and quite a few resemblances, whether voluntary or not, with the movie "Les Gaspards" (The Holes), a French comedy by Pierre Tchernia about a secret community living underneath Paris.

The result of those different influences (all of them French, have you noticed?) is a deeply original show, impossible to fit in a category. Vincent's character and the tunnel world give it a fantasy flavor, and most of the episodes have a detective plot of some kind since Catherine works at the DA's office. But most of all, it's a wonderful and poignant love story, between two people united by a bond nothing can break, even though everything conspires to keep them apart. Many important scenes take place on 'thresholds' between their worlds, or on Catherine's balcony, the only place they consider as truly 'theirs'.  
 

          

 

A romantic show, but in the true meaning of the word. A dark, sometimes bordering on gothic, romantism that will finally slide into tragedy. 

Ron Koslow didn't only invent a story. With the successive scenarists, he gave life, episode after episode, to a whole fascinating universe.

 

 

The sets of the world Below, (sur)realistic and artfully done, the costumes and of course, Vincent's make-up, make the show a beautiful object to begin with. Those aesthetics are further enhanced by numerous, mostly nocturnal shots of NYC, a character in itself. And while the 'detective' plots may sometimes appear a bit thin (as if they were a mere background to the love story), the characters, and the relationships between them, have a complexity and consistency rarely found in TV shows of that time. 

Another originality of Beauty and the Beast lies in its cultural references. Are there many US TV-shows where the characters quote Shakespeare and Shelley? Where most of the episode titles come from classic poems? Where the ideal occupation for a good evening is a Dickens novel or a Schubert concert?

 

 

Vincent, Catherine      ...and the others       The World Below        The Tunnel Community

 

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