Sunday, September 09, 2007

Cocteau + Melville = ......

Les Enfants Terribles (1950, Director Jean-Pierre Melville, Novel by Jean Cocteau)

Normally only a director's name is above a film. But when the writer is Jean Cocteau, then that can't be ignored. So if one puts the two talented names on a DVD cover, can one assume a masterpiece? Yes that can be expected if the two filmmakers were on top of their game. But as it turns out, this film was made in 1950 almost two decades before Jean-Pierre Melville developed his impressive style with Le Samouraï (1967) & L'Armée des ombres (1969). So the only style that exists in the film is that of Cocteau from his Orphée trilogy. But Cocteau didn't complete his 1950 masterpiece until Les Enfants Terribles came out, so safe to say this film was a testing ground for what lay ahead with Orphée.

Both Orphée & Les Enfants Terribles share the following elements -- Cocteau's hypnotic voice over narration, lead actor Edouard Dermithe, a sleep walking scene and identical lighting over Dermithe's head in his sleepy sequences. Cocteau's voice and the sleep-walking scenes provide a poetic and dreamy aspect to Les Enfants Terribles. Unfortunately, the story about a sister's incestuous feeling towards her brother is not that engaging, even though a hint of unrequited love from Orphée is added near the film's end.

Rating 7/10

No comments: