I believe myself to be enchanted. I have certainly experienced cinema at its most effortlessly magical…
Abroad in Brittany, in the North of France, last week I chanced upon an ‘en plein air’ cinema series that was ongoing at the nearby Chateau de la Hunaudaye.
A semi-restored castle, first constructed in the early 13th Century, De la Hunaudaye presents to visitors both a beautiful architectural structure and hidden monument to centuries of destructive conflict in France. Its well worth a visit, located by the little town of Plédéliac, and very reasonably priced on entry.
Equally reasonably priced was a nocturnal screening – in the open air courtyard of the Chateau itself – of La Belle et la Bête, Jean Cocteau’s dreamy and spellbound 1946 adaption of the Beauty and the Beast story. You know the one: a tale as old time…
Recruiting my (surprisingly willing!) family to join me, I booked four tickets to the 21.30 screening and wrapped up warm for the night’s event. The excitement was real.
The courtyard had been lined with chairs each pointed towards a large, inflatable screen at the far end, between Hunaudaye’s ‘Black Tower’ and ‘Renaissance Staircase’. As crowds milled into the castle, to the floor space once host to extravagant banquets and festivities for the royalties and nobility of France, blankets were distributed by attendants, each twinkling with the upper hand of knowing just how wonderful the night would prove.
Darkness fell in due accordance with a rise in tangibly buzzing expectation.
Cocteau’s classic remains a treasure on the smallest of screens to this day; indeed, it is a film that can be found on YouTube with little difficulty. However, to experience the beguiling beauty of this peerless French fairytale within a location that could easily have been summoned from the pages of the story itself is something that will not early be forgotten.