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The Blood of a Poet (1932)

Le sang d'un poète (original title)
Not Rated | | Fantasy | 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 »

Director:

Jean Cocteau

Writer:

Jean Cocteau
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Enrique Rivero ... Poet
Elizabeth Lee Miller Elizabeth Lee Miller ... Statue (as Lee Miller)
Pauline Carton
Odette Talazac Odette Talazac
Jean Desbordes Jean Desbordes ... Louis XV Friend
Fernand Dichamps Fernand Dichamps
Lucien Jager Lucien Jager
Féral Benga Féral Benga ... Black Angel
Barbette Barbette ... Un spectateur
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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

Genres:

Fantasy

Certificate:

Not Rated

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

20 May 2010 (Greece) See more »

Also Known As:

The Blood of a Poet See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Vicomte de Noailles See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Photophone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film is part of the Criterion Collection, spine #67. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Venom and Eternity (1951) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Cocteau remains one of the forefathers of the art-film and of the 20th Century surrealism movement
24 August 2003 | by MisterWhiplashSee all my reviews

Jean Cocteau's first film subject- Blood of a Poet (episodes 1-4), all takes place between a second's worth of measurement in time. A chimney falls to the ground in a scene of pure demolishment, and for the more mysterious glimpses in the film we see them happening in a second's flash as well (if you blink you'll miss it).

Before I saw Blood of a Poet, I figured it would be a debut Cocteau attempting a Bunuel type of filmic showcase of a different, though somewhat simple story with anarchic, subversively funny dream shots of a purely surreal nature. Then, there is the first shot, the opening image of the man, the introducer, like a ghost or a character in a Greek tragedy. The first episode is "Wounded Hand of the Scars of the Poet". Right from the music a viewer can realize Cocteau's picture is apart from Bunuel's achievement(s). The latter has a technique of classical music (Wagner over a scene of imposed seduction, for example) while Cocteau has the music as inviting, jubilant, even, however all the wigged man is doing is painting a face. It's almost like a cartoon, and for a fleeting instant, the face on the painting has lips that move. This is more than the usual surrealistic stoke of the brush- this is the first sign in motion picture history of an artist (i.e. painter) converting ideas into an episodic format. The purpose is the same- abstract thinking- but the format is of a different mind-set.

That's the first episode, that gets the viewer in, as another wigged man enters- sort of shocked- and exits like the wind. A wire face spins and the lips moving again like the painting he created just before. It could be the illusion of a lifetime, or a trick of the white light seeping out of the crevices in the lips in his hand, but the man, like us, can't ignore it until it is no more. That Cocteau has an intended poetic voice here in his brand of surrealism is a bonus of sorts to the intellectual type of audience member. And, it's not a downer to those who might not be interested in a filmmaker's ego- the artistry overcomes the ego, for the most-part anyway.

The second episode is titled "Do Walls Have Ears?", when the artist gets rid of the mouth, but now the man, the artist, is trapped in the room with the statue as the guardian. This is the first sign of the instantly narcissistic mood of Cocteau in the statue, a director in and of itself delivering enigmatic, haunting statement the mirror, again, shows with narcissism- the necessary narcissism, the kind to know one's self AND how he falls within himself like water. As the artist goes through the abyss, he winds up at the hotel (right in-between this Cocteau throws in a cut-away of a man disappearing after appearing for a number of seconds, creepy in its non-sense). Then, the artist views an execution through a key-hole in a door.

(Oh, did I mention that some of the dialog is quite possibly backwards- otherwise, what else could be the explanation of the point of it, except for random gibberish?)

Themes of suicide come up, then, soon enough after, the artist tires of this to the point of him leaving, climbing on the walls. At the end of this totally hypnotic two-parter, we see the reason, at the last for a clear instant, his emotion is now purely terror (by breaking the mirror, Cocteau tries to break through his own narcissistic tendencies).

The 3rd and 4th episodes are another kind of two-parter, and they center on a snowball fight and a card game, respectively. "The snowball fight" is entirely representative of the (true) brutal, near-primitiveness of the realities that go with childhood, leading up to a battered snowball victim at the side of an elegant man and woman dealing a game with each other. Suddenly, during this ("The Profanation of the Host" as it's appropriately titles) surrealism is at an astonishing height for its time. One shot, in particular, seemed to be an inspiration for a part of the Jupiter landing in 2001. A card is lifted from the boy, an assist in the game, and the man ends up losing, the boy (and the black man) revealing disgust in the elegance of the situation of the game.

That's when it hit me, the message of Blood of a Poet. Behind beauty, as well as behind one's own desires and vision, even if we can't entirely explain why it's beautiful or why we hold these desires for ourselves is the darkness that beckons (perhaps in the slightest of moments of our lives) in our deepest, most assuredly dream-like delusions of grandeur. From this, you could gather, Blood of a Poet seems like it may not be for everyone, certainly not for those who can't even remember one dream from their entire life (personally I thought it contained inklings of pretentious gobledy-gook). But its nature is something to look for, and if you only see the movie once, you might not be sorry. Grade: A


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