1] Mark Doty explains that "The poem's based on Jean Cocteau's film of the same title ... probably my favorite movie of all time" (e-mail to the Editor, Dec. 14, 2000). Cocteau's film, premiering in Paris in 1946, stars Jean Marais as Avenant, the Beast, and the Prince, and Josette Day as Beauty. See the International Movie Database for details. Cocteau worked from La Belle et la Bête, by Madame Le Prince de Beaumont in 1757, which was translated by Andrew Lang in his The Blue Fairy Tale Book (published by Project Gutenberg in blfry10.txt as e-text #503 April 1996). The following summary of Cocteau's film version comes from the article in American Cinematographer Online Magazine (September 1997):
A merchant, impoverished by the loss of his ships, has three beautiful daughters: Adelaide and Felice are vain and ill-tempered, while Beauty is kind-hearted. While returning on horseback from a business trip, the merchant gets lost in a forest during a storm. He finds a decaying castle where he is fed and sheltered by a seemingly invisible host. In the morning, he plucks a rose for Beauty.
Soon, a hideous Beast dressed as a nobleman appears and tells him he must die for stealing the rose. The man is allowed to visit his children, but must either return to pay for his crime or send one of his daughters. Beauty takes her father's place and goes to the Beast's castle, where she agrees to stay. Hopelessly in love, the Beast is kind to her and eventually wins her friendship. When she asks to visit her family, the Beast agrees on condition that she will return in a week. He gives her a magic glove which will take her wherever she commands.
During her absence, the Beast begins slowly dying of grief. When his magic horse, Magnifique, sets off to retrieve Beauty, Avenant, Beauty's no-good suitor, and Ludovic, her indigent brother, mount the horse and go to the castle. Beauty follows; when she finds the dying Beast, she declares her love for him. Meanwhile, Avenant and Ludovic try to steal the Beast's treasure from Diana's Pavilion in the castle garden. The statue of Diana kills Avenant with an arrow, and he is changed into the likeness of the Beast. The Beast himself simultaneously becomes a prince with Avenant's handsome features, and carries Beauty far away to their legendary home.