26 user 45 critic

Les Enfants Terribles (1950)

Les enfants terribles (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 28 July 1952 (USA)
The dangerously obsessive relationship between a psychologically manipulative brother and sister who isolate themselves and draw others into their mind games.


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




Credited cast:
Nicole Stéphane ... Elisabeth
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 ... Headmaster
Maurice Revel Maurice Revel ... Doctor
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 ... Le mannequin
Pierre Bénichou Pierre Bénichou ... Young schoolboy (Extra)


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


a love story by Jean Cocteau




Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The sound of Edouard Dermithe's heartbeat was the sound recorded of Jean Cocteau's heartbeat, dubbed in by the director. See more »


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 »


Agathe: I fell in love with Paul the moment I saw him. I didn't dare admit it to myself. I liked it when he teased and insulted me.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The song that Michael sings while sitting at the piano was deleted for the original American release. See more »


Featured in Backbeat (1994) See more »


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

User Reviews

Great Example of Existentialism in Cinema
2 January 2015 | by dial911bookSee all my reviews

I recently saw this movie, titled The Strange Ones in English, with English subtitles on TCM. I know a little French, and it seemed the English translations may not have captured all the nuances, but I'm not sure.

Before writing my review I wanted to see what more experienced or better informed people were saying, and I gather that most of the favorable reviewers liked the daring themes presented in stark black and white format with highly dramatic acting and artistic camera work. No doubt about it, this movie features all of those, and I did watch the whole thing because of those elements.

As with many French films I've seen over the years, this film presents an amoral view of life, i.e., there is no right or wrong, in fact in this movie there is no real consideration of right or wrong in the script or the story at all.

Minutes before my sister learned that her fiancée had been killed in a car accident, she asked me "what is existentialism?" I had a sense for the concept but I struggled to make it concrete. That awful phone call ended the conversation about literature, but I never forgot that moment. Now I know the answer, and The Strange Ones could well serve as a teaching tool in literature or philosophy classes; a person actively watching and thinking about this movie will "get" what existentialism is (in cinema anyway).

This film brilliantly presents strange people, maybe "weird people" better says it, going through unusual events in an unusual context. In existentialism nothing really has overarching meaning, so whatever happens, happens, and the results yield not so much tragedy as very dark farce.

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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


Sound Mix:

Mono (Euphonic Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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