August 25 + Further dates (TBC)
A truly diverse, influential and mercurial artist, Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) approached everything he made with the vision of a poet. Exploring the porous boundaries between fairy-tale, memory, dream, everyday life, death, and masculine, feminine and queer sexuality, Cocteau’s pioneering lyrical and avant-garde work spanned many fields including writing, poetry, painting, design, criticism, acting and filmmaking. He was a polymath who regarded beauty as the ultimate goal to which all of his work should strive. Mixing personal with classical mythology, while openly exploring his own homosexuality, he “set Greek tragedy to the rhythm of our times”. Born to a prominent family in a small town outside Paris, he became associated with writers such as Proust, Apollinaire and Gide when in his early 20s. His integration into the fervent artistic social scene in Paris in the 1910s and 1920s led Cocteau to complete a varied slate of work, such as a ballet with designs by Picasso and music by Satie (Parade in 1917), and to undertake many creative collaborations with artists such as his lover, actor Jean Marais, Jean-Pierre Melville, Stravinsky, Colette and many others. Despite his work across many forms and mediums, Cocteau’s major artistic contribution was to the cinema. Directing his first film at age of 40, Le sang d’un poète, Cocteau approached the movie screen as “the true mirror reflecting the flesh and blood of [his] dreams”. This season celebrates Cocteau’s truly singular body of work, incorporating all of his key films including his extraordinary collaboration with Melville (Les enfants terribles), his gorgeous adaptation of La belle et la bête, and his hugely influential “Orphic trilogy”.
7:00pm LA BELLE ET LA BÊTE
Jean Cocteau (1946) 93 mins Download (+KDM) – PG
This ageless gothic fairy-tale comes fully to life in Cocteau’s magically surreal romantic spectacle. With a dreamlike tone, complete with fantastical inventions, cinematic trickery, and smoke and mirrors, Cocteau’s opus is one of the true landmarks of French cinema. The beautifully detailed costume designs, Henri Alekan’s extraordinarily opulent and fluid cinematography, and Georges Auric’s memorable score are coupled with highly influential effects (René Clément was technical advisor). Jean Marais, Cocteau’s long-time partner and muse, stars as “The Beast”.
Once Upon a Time…: Beauty and the Beast by Jeremy Carr
8:45pm LE TESTAMENT D’ORPHÉE
Jean Cocteau (1960) 80 mins DCP JORR. StudioCanal (+KDM) – PG
Mixing life and death, present and future, nightmare and dream, the third part of Cocteau’s “Orphic trilogy” is a summation of the artist’s works and preoccupations. Cocteau as The Poet wanders weightlessly through a dream landscape peopled by his friends, collaborators, characters and images from his films, including María Casares, Jean Marais, Pablo Picasso, Françoise Sagan, Charles Aznavour, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Brigitte Bardot, Edouard Dermithe and Yul Brynner.
“An Artist Always Paints His Own Portrait”: Jean Cocteau’s Testament of Orpheus by Wheeler Winston Dixon