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Born: Maisons-Lafitte, 5 July 1889.
Died: Milly-la-Foret, 11 October 1963.

Jean Cocteau (JPG, 13 KB)

French artist, writer and director. Cocteau's artistic output was prodigious—poems, plays, opera libretti, essays, drawings, church murals—and the cinema was only one aspect of it. Yet on account of their beauty and singularity his relatively few films have had a disproportionate impact. Cocteau introduced a rare element of the fantastic in French cinema, reworking myths and fairy tales which he rendered with a "magic" imagery of mirrors, baroque objects and architecture and fabulous creatures. Apart from his avant-garde short feature Le Sang d'un poète / The Blood of a Poet (1930), Cocteau's cinematic activity was confined to the 1940s and 1950s. La Belle et la Bête, starring Jean Marais (1946), is one of the most beautiful French films ever made, a cult movie for cinéphiles and children alike. Cocteau pursued two main avenues in his films: myth, with L'Eternel retour (1943, dir. Jean Delannoy), Orphée (1950) and Le Testament d'Orphée (1960); and Oedipal drama, with Les Parents terribles / The Storm Within (1948, described by André Bazin as Cocteau's most theatrical and most cinematic work) and Les Enfants Terribles / The Strange Ones (directed by Jean-Pierre Melville, 1950).

— Ginette Vincendeau, Encylopedia of European Cinema

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