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The Blood of a Poet (1932)

Le sang d'un poète (original title)
Unrated | | 20 May 2010 (Greece)
A young artist draws a face at a canvas on his easel. Suddenly the mouth on the drawing comes into life and starts talking. The artist tries to wipe it away with his hand, but when he looks... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Elizabeth Lee Miller ...
Statue (as Lee Miller)
Odette Talazac
Jean Desbordes ...
Louis XV Friend
Fernand Dichamps
Lucien Jager
Féral Benga ...
Black Angel
Barbette
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Storyline

A young artist draws a face at a canvas on his easel. Suddenly the mouth on the drawing comes into life and starts talking. The artist tries to wipe it away with his hand, but when he looks into the hand he finds the living mouth on his palm. He tries to wipe it off on the mouth of an unfinished statue of a young woman. The statue comes into life and tells him that the only way out of the studio is through the looking glass. The artist jumps into the mirror and comes to the Hotel of Dramatic Lunacies. He peeps through the keyholes of a series of hotel rooms. In the last room he sees desperate meetings of hermaphrodites. One of them has a signboard saying "Mortal danger". Back in the studio the artist crushes the statue with a sledgehammer. Because of this he himself becomes a statue, located at the side of a square. Some schoolboys start a snowball fight around the statue. One of the boys is killed by a snowball. A fashionable couple start playing cards at a table beside the corpse. ... Written by Maths Jesperson {maths.jesperson1@comhem.se}

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Unrated

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20 May 2010 (Greece)  »

Also Known As:

The Blood of a Poet  »

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(RCA Photophone)

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1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Because of the October 1930 scandal around Luis Buñuel's L'Age d'Or (1930) - another film financed by Le Vicomte de Noailles and Marie-Laure de Noailles, the Paris premiere of this film was delayed until January 1932. See more »

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Featured in Brows Held High: Beauty and the Beast: Part 2 (2014) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A realistic documentary of unreal events
10 December 2007 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

Though my experience is undoubtedly limited, I'm not usually a fan of surrealism or experimental cinema, usually dismissing them as exercises in pointlessness. However, my duty as a film buff tempted me to try my hands at Jean Cocteau's "Orphic trilogy", starting with 'Le Sang d'un poète / The Blood of a Poet (1930) {the remaining two films are, of course, 'Orpheus (1950)' and 'The Testament of Orpheus (1960)'}. Luckily the film was rather short, because I can't say that – on first viewing, at least – I got much out of it. There is certainly some very interesting imagery, and Cocteau has fun making use of his visual trickery {I particularly liked how the poet fell through the mirror}, but, once the hour was over, I simply didn't feel any more entranced, inspired or shocked than I had been prior to watching the film. Call it inexperience if you must, but I just didn't "get" what the film was trying to communicate, if anything at all.

As a random collection of bizarre and occasionally-invigorating images, 'The Blood of a Poet' works to a certain extent, but, if it ever aimed to shock its audiences, the effect is never anything to rival its surrealistic contemporaries, mostly notably Luis Buñuel's 'Un chien andalou / An Andalusian Dog (1929).' In Cocteau's keen eye for mind-tripping camera-work, there is certainly merit, though I doubt that the mere inventiveness of the visuals is the reason why the film is held in such reverence. Is the film simply a collection of random episodes designed to evoke an emotional response, or is there a deeper subtext that I'm overlooking? One interesting theory is that 'The Blood of a Poet' depicts the suffering of a poet, of an artist, and how this immense suffering is transformed into a work of art, something truly beautiful {one particular sequence supports this hypothesis, as a young girl responds to her cruel maltreatment by learning to fly}.

However, beyond this primitive inkling of a theory, I find myself thoroughly baffled by the events depicted in the film, which largely strike me as being random. In an essay he wrote about his film {included with the excellent Criterion Collection DVD}, Cocteau states that 'The Blood of a Poet' draws nothing from dreams or symbols, but that it, "as far as the former are concerned… initiates their mechanism, and by letting the mind relax, as in sleep, it lets memories entwine, move and express themselves freely. As for the latter, it rejects them, and substitutes acts, or allegories of these acts, that the spectator can make symbols of if he wishes." The precise meaning of these words still eludes me, but it sounds as though the director didn't ever intend for the film to make any sense, and that it is up to the audience to derive their own greater meaning from the collection of sounds and images. Maybe Cocteau knew exactly what he was doing, or maybe he just managed to convince us that he did.


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