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Ruth Leon recommends… Jean Cocteau’s 135th Birthday

Ruth Leon recommends… Jean Cocteau’s 135th Birthday
Ruth Leon recommends… Jean Cocteau’s 135th Birthday

Jean Cocteau’s 135th Birthday

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This week also marks the 135th birthday of Jean Cocteau,  the celebrated French author, playwright, artist and director.

Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau (5 July 1889 – 11 October 1963) was a French poet, playwright, novelist, designer, filmmaker, visual artist and critic. Author of “Les Enfants Terribles,” and “la Belle et la Bête,” he was one of the most influential French writers of the 20th century.

His work included poetry, novels, works for theater and films, paintings, opera and dance, and journalistic criticism.

He was criticized by the surrealists to whom he was compared. He struggled with religion, opium addiction and was openly bi-sexual. This documentary, nearly as old as its subject, tells his story, mostly in his own words and pictures.

Jacques Barsac’s 1996 film is of its own time, black and white, and Surrealistic, a word and style Cocteau rejected. It employs not only sequences of Cocteau talking to camera about himself but also much of his artwork, animated to illustrate the breath of his achievements and some of his film work. He saw himself above all as a poet, in words, music, film and art and his perspective on his own life does much to help us appreciate, or at least understand him, afresh, from our contemporary perspective.

He was a true original.


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