The Art of Cinema -   Jean Cocteau

The Art of Cinema - Jean Cocteau

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Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) was a poet, a novelist, a playwright, an artist, an impresario, dandy and socialite. Friend to many of the most daringly original and socially dazzling fgures to be found in Paris at the height of its fame in the early part of this century as the teeming centre of the modernist world, Cocteau collaborated with such luminaries as Picasso, Stravinsky, Satie and Diaghilev. Jean Cocteau was only a small child when the Lumiere brothers first demonstrated their remarkable new invention, moving pidures, and his own artistic development coincided with that of the twentieth century's most important new medium. When given the chance to make his first film (The Blood of the Poet) in 1931, Cocteau embraced the new medium with the originality and verve that were his hallmark.

Over the next thirty years, up to the time of his last film (The Testament of Orpheus) in 1960, Cocteau made eight films, wrote essays on the cinema and film criticism which bore witness to his passionate affair with the moving image. This collection of his writings on film illuminates Cocteau's own work for the cinema, with detailed discussions of his aims, responses to criticism and his reflections on the relationship between cinema and theatre. Among several occasional pieces, Cocteau comments on the movie stars he admires - Marlene Dietrich, Brigitte Bardot, James Dean and Robert Montgomery - as well as the achievements of such great directors as Chaplin and Orson Welles.

The final section in this volume contains what is perhaps the most remarkable and unique material, offering insights into the mind of a visual poet through the previously unpublished synopses of unrealized film projects. Cocteau'stwo screenplays The Blood of a Poet and The Testament of Orpheus are published together by Marion Boyars under the title Two Screenplays.


.Marion Boyars Publishers Ltd 2000. Paperback. 240 pages