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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}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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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

Originally titled "The Life of a Poet". See more »

Connections

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

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A Masterpiece of Half-Waking Beauty
29 February 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Surrealist movement, as an artistic revolution has been utterly dominated by the name Salvador Dali at least in popular culture. Those in the know may be able to list a few other artists such as Roberto Matta or Max Ernst; perhaps make a tentative connection between Surrealism and Cubism and by extension Pablo Picasso. Even fewer people realize Surrealism has left an indelible impact on film which still seeps into the unconscious of many a-movie. Luis Bunuel's Un Chien Andalou (1929) stands as one obvious example but while Bunuel's career is infamous within cinema circles, many people don't consider French director, writer, and all around renaissance man Jean Cocteau to be part of the movement.

The Blood of a Poet is the first part of Jean Cocteau's Orpheus Trilogy (1932-1960); a loosely connected telling and re-telling of the well-known Greek legend. In this installment, our poet (Rivero) stands in a studio, painting on a canvas with the intensity seen in the most obsessive of human beings. His creations start to come to life, first the paintings then the sculptures. As he discovers the dreamlike dimensions of the room and it's contents, the poet goes into a fugue state falling through mirrors and peering through keyholes. The film ends with the destruction of a factory-type tower or smokestack precipitated by the constant appearance of a muse like figure. By the end she's lying in darkness with a lyre and a globe symbolizing Erato the muse of lyric poetry or maybe Urania the muse of astronomy.

Jean Cocteau is arguably most known for his poetry though he's dabbled in theatre, novel writing and of course film. In the realm of cinema his crowning accomplishment is The Beauty and the Beast (1946) which showed remarkable economy in storytelling and in special-effects. The Blood of a Poet however is a 55 minute concentrated dose of Cocteau at his most creative. Few films today can catapult it's audience into the outer limits of cinematic artistry and with today's spreadsheet, bottom-line obsessed studios there is simply no room for experimentation. Yet in 1930, one man was seemingly given unlimited resources to play with the form and unlike Bunuel's aforementioned Un Chien Andalou and L'Age d'Or (1930), Cocteau's oeuvre concentrates on the sublime not on the grotesque. Interesting to note that Cocteau had been dubbed by his contemporaries "The Frivolous Prince," for his bohemian lifestyle and romantic view of poetry. It certainly shows here.

Those who lived prior to the films release accused it of being anti- religious and delayed its release by two years. Modern skeptics complain that the film is incredibly pretentious and others still, express it is aggressively political in nature. They're not wrong; all the above can be true and false depending on your attitude and disposition. If you're one to take artist intent into consideration Cocteau wrote an essay on The Blood of a Poet contending that it is not a surreal film at all! But rather an attempt to "...avoid the deliberate manifestations of the unconscious in favor of a kind of half-sleep through which I wandered as though in a labyrinth." As with all surreal artwork, the film is ultimately an exercise in personal interpretation.

What remains certain is The Blood of a Poet packs more themes, more story, more experimentation and more beauty in it's scant screen- time than most TV-series' put into their entire run. The ingenuity and raw emotional power embedded in this film is stunning and are sure to bedevil you in your daydreams and in your sleep. I truly, in my heart of hearts believe The Blood of a Poet to be the ideal first film for those wishing to delve into Surrealism. Of course that's just my interpretation; I suppose that's the point.


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