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Jean Cocteau, the first French writer to take cinema seriously, was as old and young as cinema itself; he made his first film in 1925 and completed his last film when he was 70. This book first deals with the issue of the type of film maker that Cocteau was: as a auteur, as a collaborator, as an experimenter, and as a theorist. It takes the pulse of Cocteau's cinema by examining in detail his ground-breaking first film Le Sang d'un poète', and argues that the film offers a vision of the potential of film for Cocteau. The book traces the evolution of realism and fantasy in Cocteau's work by introducing a main element, theatre, and assesses the full gamut of Cocteau's formal inclinations: from the legend and fantasy of L'Eternel retour to the spectacular fairytale of La Belle et la bête; from the 'film théâtral' of L'Aigle à deux têtes to the domestic melodrama Les Parents terribles which 'detheatricalises' his original play. In Le Testament d'Orphée, all the various formal tendencies of Cocteau's cinema come together but with the additional element of time conceived of as history, and the book re-evaluates the general claim of Cocteau's apparently missed encounter with history. The book considers whether the real homosexual element of Cocteau's cinema surfaces more at the most immediate level of sound and image by concentrating on the specifics of Cocteau's filmic style, in particular camera angle, framing and reverse-motion photography.

James S. Williams

was Marais who subsequently encouraged Cocteau to return to the cinema as a director after their spectacular success together on Delannoy’s L’Eternel retour (1943), a film that had transformed Marais into one of French cinema’s first male sex symbols. The achievement of La Belle et la b ê te three years later proved that he could play three different parts simultaneously and, as the Beast, potentially be anything

in Jean Cocteau
James S. Williams

degrees and intensities. We shall now trace this complex evolving process by examining six major films in groups of two, each group constituting a specific set of problematics. The first film of each cluster represents the extreme of a formal tendency, the second functions as its virtual resolution, albeit provisional. We begin with L’Eternel retour (1943), directed by Jean Delannoy, and Cocteau’s second major work for the

in Jean Cocteau
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James S. Williams

d’’ un poète , 1930–32. Room 23 at the Hòtel des Folies-dramatiques: a reclining half-human, half-drawn hermaphrodite with, to the left, a rotating spiral. This is composite mise en scène as a form of montage 3 L’Eternel retour , 1943. Patrice and Nathalie I find unity in death in

in Jean Cocteau
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James S. Williams

Delannoy’s L’Eternel retour (1943), and Robert Bresson’s Les Dames du bois de Boulogne (1944) – L’Eternel retour proved the most successful, both artistically and commercially. Indeed, with this escapist fantasy and period melodrama starring Jean Marais, Cocteau imposed himself in the 1940s as one of France’s most bankable directors. Cocteau openly acknowledged the diffuse and often ungraspable nature

in Jean Cocteau
Jonathan Driskell

significant for giving insight into developments in Carné’s aesthetics. Most strikingly, the film belongs to the period’s ‘cinéma fantastique’ – films dealing with magical, otherworldly subject matter. Key examples of this genre include Le Baron fantôme (Serge de Poligny, 1943) and L’Éternel Retour (Jean Delannoy, 1943), both of which involved the work of Jean Cocteau, an important contributor to the

in Marcel Carné
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Le Sang d’un poète
James S. Williams

work, whether literally, as in the case of the evil dwarf Achill in L’Eternel retour spying through prohibited doors, or conceptually, as in the highly intimate close-up framing of the characters in Les Parents terribles. This process also recalls F. W. Murnau’s later practice of Kammerspiel with its claustrophobic environments and enclosed frames where victims are visibly caught in their fate despite the amount of

in Jean Cocteau
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Anatomy of a metaphor
John M. Ganim

characteristics can be found in medieval movies. They also distinguish film noir from other series, in the course of which they mention Jean Delannoy and Jean Cocteau’s L’Eternel Retour (1943) as an example of an item in a series involving ‘mythic evasions’. Modernising Tristan and Isolde in contemporary dress, Cocteau dramatised the public and private conflicts inherent in the plot, emphasising its dark

in Medieval film
Guy Austin

Becker’s Goupi Mains-Rouges (1943) in a remote inn, while the major successes at Parisian cinemas – Marcel L’Herbier’s La Nuit fantastique (1941), Marcel Carné’s Les Visiteurs du soir (1942) and Les Enfants du paradis (1945), and Jean Delannoy’s L’Éternel Retour (1943) – were either fantastical or historical subjects or both at once. Even Henri-Georges Clouzot’s controversial thriller Le Corbeau (1943

in Contemporary French cinema
The forging of European temporal identities
Giordano Nanni

. 17 Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return: or, Cosmos and History (Le Mythe de l’éternel retour: archétypes et répétition (1949), trans. Willard R. Trask (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1974), p. 23. 18 Codex Justinianus , quoted in Philip

in The colonisation of time