James S. Williams
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The tricks of the reel
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This chapter examines Jean Cocteau's six major films in groups of two, each group constituting a specific set of problematics. The films include: L'Eternel retour, La Belle et la bête, L'Aigle à deux têtes, Les Parents terribles, La Villa Santo-Sospir, and Le Testament d'Orphée. The first film of each cluster represents the extreme of a formal tendency, the second functions as its virtual resolution, albeit provisional. La Belle et la bête may be said to operate meta-cinematically as a statement on the nature of film and its dual capacity for reality and fantasy whereby the filmic reel is always nothing less than a vehicle of the real. The ultimate proof of the real in Le Testament lies in the film's recording and projection of acts. For Cocteau, time and space were really one and the same, and it is only our human laws that separate them.

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