Beauty and the Devil (La Beauté du diable) plus Phantom of the Moulin Rouge

Beauty and the Devil
Rene Clair's updated version of the Faust legend is made with a twist of irony that finds Michel Simon playing both Faust and Mephistopheles, and both playing with fire in the thoroughly modern way: the devil has promised Faust the gift of atomic weapons. When Gérard Philipe, as the poor Knight Henri, a young incarnation of Faust, has a vision of the horrifying potential of such use of science (the more realistic as we watch), he puts the devil to flight with a popular revolt (still Clair's bittersweet whimsy).
The droll smile of Clair's earlier works is still there in Beauty and the Devil, but a new earnestness can be detected (though, according to film historian Georges Sadoul, the theme of atomic war was illusive to the 1949 audience). Clair has commented: “The great drive that pushed the alchemists has continued until the era of atomic discoveries. And my contemporaries have the privilege of taking part in the spectacle of humanity which, having sold its soul to science, tries to forestall the damnation of the world towards which its own efforts are leading.” (reprinted in Sadoul, “Dictionary of Films”) (J.B.)

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