This film is a wonderful piece devoted to one of the 20th century's
greatest literary figures, Antonin Artaud, who in his short life,
attempted to create an outrageous and cruel theater which would leave
spectators dazzled. Artaud is just released from a mental asylum and is
sought out by pretentious bohemians in cafes of Paris, a struggling
poet, Jacques Prevel, wants to be introduced to him since he is his
hero and he also needs Artauds help in becoming known. What follows is
a relationship that develops out of need, the poet Jacques needs
Artaud's mentorship and perhaps a handwritten introduction to his
poetry and Artaud needs opium to fuel his pain so that he can write
before the cancer he has can consume him. "I've survived my own death,"
Artaud says, and we already understand that Artaud is on the verge of
dying a physical death. Sami Frey, who plays Artaud, is simply
extraordinary and there is no hint that this man is an actor, this man
IS Artaud, everything he says, whether it be random missives on the
nature of evil in a fly or movements with his hands, eyes and intense
caricature of the face, realizes Artaud's living frenzy.
The scenes are bleak, and the whole film is in black and white with a
grainy quality which is simply perfect for the mood. We don't know if
Artaud inspires the poet but at the end, Jacques writes, "I knew
Antonin Artaud, he is the only man I loved . .. " and with that we
realize that one of the greatest figures of man had such a supreme
power of words that he will be sorely missed. Long live Artaud.
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