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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:

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

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French | English

Release Date:

28 July 1952 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Les Enfants Terribles See more »

Filming Locations:

Ermenonville, Oise, France See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Melville Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Euphonic Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

The line spoken by Cocteau when Elisabeth is looking at her hands, "All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand...", is from Macbeth Act 5 scene 1, by William Shakespeare. 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

Edited into Adieu au langage (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Concerto for violin, strings & basso continuo in D minor (RV 813/vclass. RV Anh. 10)
Written by Antonio Vivaldi
See more »

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User Reviews

Creative Schizophrenia - Two Great Auteurs Don't Mix!
8 April 2002 | by david melvilleSee 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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