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Les Enfants Terribles (1950)

Les enfants terribles (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 28 July 1952 (USA)
In a snowball fight between schoolboys the handsome Dargelos hits the chest of Paul, who drops unconscious to the ground. Paul has a deep affection for Dargelos, and later denies that there... See full summary »

Writers:

(novel), (adaptation)
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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Credited cast:
Nicole Stéphane ...
Elisabeth
Edouard Dermithe ...
Paul
Renée Cosima ...
Dargelos / Agathe
Jacques Bernard ...
Gerard
Melvyn Martin ...
Michael
Maria Cyliakus ...
The Mother
Jean-Marie Robain ...
Headmaster
Maurice Revel ...
Doctor
Rachel Devirys
Adeline Aucoc ...
Mariette
Emile Mathys ...
Vice Principal
Roger Gaillard ...
Gerard's Uncle
...
Narrator (voice)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Annabel Buffet
Karin Lannby ...
The Mother
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Storyline

In a snowball fight between schoolboys the handsome Dargelos hits the chest of Paul, who drops unconscious to the ground. Paul has a deep affection for Dargelos, and later denies that there was a stone in the snowball that hit him. Back home Paul's sister Elisabeth takes care of him. The teenage siblings live together in one room, where they have developed several private games with a strong erotic undertone. Paul's schoolmate Gérard is secretly enamored of Elisabeth, and often stays with them. When Elisabeth introduces her new friend Agathe to Paul, he recognizes that she resembles Dargelos strongly, and immediately falls in love with her. Elisabeth marries a rich young American Jew, Michael, but he dies in a car accident the day after the wedding. Elisabeth inherits his big apartment with 18 rooms and a gallery, and the four friends move into it. Paul sleeps in the gallery, where he builds a replica of the siblings' old room. Both Paul and Agathe are secretly enamored of the other. ... Written by Maths Jesperson {maths.jesperson1@comhem.se}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

a love story by Jean Cocteau

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

28 July 1952 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Les Enfants Terribles  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jean Cocteau was allowed a day of shooting, when Jean-Pierre Melville wasn't feeling up to the mark. Cocteau was to follow Melville's instructions exactly or do nothing at all. Eight shots in all, which were supposed to be of a summer's day but were done in midwinter in the rain. See more »

Goofs

The amount of blood on Paul's face changes between when he is in the shop and when he is in the taxi. See more »

Quotes

Narrator: A great mystery was made clear: Elisabeth hadn't married him for his money nor his elegance or charm. She married him for his death.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Made in U.S.A (1966) See more »

Soundtracks

Concerto in A minor for 4 pianos (BWV 1065)
by Johann Sebastian Bach
from Concerto in B minor for four violins, cello, and strings (Op. 3, No. 10; RV 580), by Antonio Vivaldi
See more »

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User Reviews

Creative Schizophrenia - Two Great Auteurs Don't Mix!
8 April 2002 | by (Edinburgh, Scotland) – See all my reviews

First, I have to admit that I nearly didn't write this comment at all. I read a rave review of Les Enfants Terribles by an earlier user and agreed with (almost) every word of it. What more was there to add? Then I searched my soul for a day or so, and had to admit that this film REALLY does not work for me - brilliantly directed, skilfully acted, moodily photographed and lyrically scored though it may be.

For all its many splendours, this Melville film of a Cocteau novel suffers from a malady I can only describe as "creative schizophrenia." It is recognisably a work by two highly individual artists, each of whom creates his own distinctive and magical world. No film by Melville could ever be mistaken for anybody else's. The same is true of Cocteau.

How do these two worlds mix together? To put it bluntly, not at all. This is most apparent in the (mis)casting of the androgynous and incestuous brother-sister duo. With his porcelain cheekbones and languid sensuality, Edouard Dhermitte is a classic Cocteau actor. (He was, in fact, Cocteau's lover at the time.) With her politicised Left Bank angst and 'butch' vitality, Nicole Stephane is a classic Melville heroine. (She had starred in his much finer 1947 film Le Silence de la Mer.) These two actors scarcely seem to belong on the same planet, let alone in the same family.

Still more disheartening is the utter lack of allure of Renee Cosima, a pudgy young ingenue who is cast as the brother's two ambisexual love objects

  • the sadistic schoolboy Dargelos and the lovelorn model Agathe. Lacking


even the tiniest flicker of charisma, whether as a man or as a woman, Cosima makes it difficult for us to empathise with the hero's erotic longings, or to care much about the hothouse melodrama that breaks loose as a result.

Try as I might to warm to this film, I cannot help imagining it with a different cast. As the brother and sister, Helmut Berger and Dominique Sanda from The Garden of the Finzi Continis. As the androgynous sexual pirate Agathe/Dargelos, maybe Katharine Hepburn from Sylvia Scarlett or Indrid Thulin from The Magician or (why not?) the immortal Anne Carlisle from Liquid Sky. Most important of all - and I know this smacks of heresy - I would much rather Cocteau had directed it himself. One great auteur should be enough for any film.

David Melville


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