“Poets . . . shed not only the red blood of their hearts but the white blood of their souls,” proclaimed Jean Cocteau of his groundbreaking first film—an exploration of the plight of the artist, the power of metaphor and the relationship between art and dreams. One of cinema’s great experiments, this first installment of the Orphic Trilogy stretches the medium to its limits in an effort to capture the poet’s obsession with the struggle between the forces of life and death. —The Criterion Collection
More than simply one of avant-garde’s most successful and influential filmmakers, Jean Cocteau ranked among the century’s most diversely talented artists, also enjoying success as an accomplished poet, novelist, and illustrator. Cocteau was born July 5, 1889, in France and was raised primarily in Paris. Educated at the Lycee Condorcet, he became infatuated with another boy, Pierre Dargelos; their relationship was never consummated, and Pierre’s ghost often haunted Cocteau’s later adult work, his image embodying recurring themes of longing and solitude. He made his first splash while still a teen, reading his poetry at the Theatre Femina as a protégé of the actor Edouard de Max and becoming a darling of the intellectual set. By the middle of World War I, he was composing for the Ballets Russes, for Parade, which featured decor by no less a figure than Pablo Picasso, and music from Erik Satie, premiering in 1917. His subsequent wartime experiences later became the subject of a 1923 novel… read more
The surreal travels of a pearl, a thief, a sleepwalker, a young man and his lover. Watch the entire short film here!