Monday, 27 December 2010

The Blood of a Poet

Year: 1930
Director: Jean Cocteau
Screenplay: Jean Cocteau
Starring: Elizabeth 'Lee' Miller, Pauline Carton, Odette Talazacuez, Feral Benga, Enrique Rivero, Jean Desbordes
Running Time: 55 minutes
Genre: Surreal, experimental, fantasy

Summary: An artist (Rivero) paints a picture of a face and is startled when the painting's mouth starts moving, and frantically erases it. He is shocked when the mouth appears on the palm of his hand and begins moving. On the advice of a talking statue (Miller), the artist enters a mirror and finds himself in the "Hotel of Dramatic Lunacies" where he is forced to crawl along a gravity-defying, dreamlike corridor and peer through the keyholes of the doors that he passes at various bizarre tableaux.

Opinions: This was the debut film from French poet, artist, writer and film-maker Jean Cocteau and forms the first part of a trilogy loosely based on the Greek legend of Orpheus which continued with Orphee (1950) and Testament of Orpheus (1960). This is very much an experimental film and has very little in the way of a plot, instead it's a succession of various strange and surreal images and scenes which are sometimes striking, but how you feel about it will definitely depend on whether or not you can get onto Cocteau's wavelength. Although if you are interested in surrealist art and cinema, then you will probably want to check this out. It is not an enjoyable movie, but it is a powerful one and quite fascinating. It's pretty much as close as cinema could ever get to filming a dream. Due to rumours about an anti-Christian message in the film, and the furore over the Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali film L'Age d'Or the movie was hugely controversial in France and it's release was delayed for over a year.
This is strange, powerful, sometimes boring and frequently intriguing.

A typically strange image from The Blood of a Poet

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