The Blood of a Poet

Overview

In the first of this film's four episodes, a tall smokestack starts to collapse. Then the scene shifts to a young poet who is sketching faces. He sees that a sketch's mouth is moving and wipes it off with his hand; the mouth attaches itself to his palm. Eventually he transfers the mouth to a statue in his room. In the second episode, the statue tells the poet to enter a mirror. He falls into the darkness of the mirror's interior and finds himself at the Hotel de Folies-Dramatiques. The poet crawls along the ...
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Overview

In the first of this film's four episodes, a tall smokestack starts to collapse. Then the scene shifts to a young poet who is sketching faces. He sees that a sketch's mouth is moving and wipes it off with his hand; the mouth attaches itself to his palm. Eventually he transfers the mouth to a statue in his room. In the second episode, the statue tells the poet to enter a mirror. He falls into the darkness of the mirror's interior and finds himself at the Hotel de Folies-Dramatiques. The poet crawls along the hallway and peers into the keyholes, where he sees various bizarre situations. He reaches the end of the hallway, someone hands him a gun, and he shoots himself. The poet returns to his room and smashes the statue; then he becomes a statue himself in a courtyard. In the third episode, a group of boys engage in a snowfight in the courtyard. The statue is destroyed and one boy is left bloody and possibly dead after being hit with a snowball. In the final episode, the courtyard is revealed to be a stage on which a young woman and the poet play cards next to the boy's body, which is still lying on the ground. The woman tells the poet that he is lost without the Ace; he takes the card from the boy's jacket. The boy's guardian angel appears and covers him. He takes the Ace from the poet and leaves; the poet shoots himself in the head and the audience applauds. The woman walks away and it is revealed that she is the statue; then the film ends with the final collapse of the tall smokestack.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Todd Kristel
Inspired by the myth of Orpheus and details from Jean Cocteau's own life, The Blood of a Poet is a fascinating, but somewhat confusing look at the struggle to create art. Its dreamlike imagery and unconventional narrative structure might not seem revolutionary to viewers who have absorbed Cocteau's influence through modern filmmakers such as David Lynch; also, the film might seem slow to some viewers despite its short running length (for example, the camera lingers too long on some of the reaction shots). But this is still an impressive and historically important film that retains much of its sense of mystery, although it's not as accessible as the remaining two films in Cocteau's Orphic Trilogy, Orpheus (1950) and The Testament of Orpheus (1960). The Blood of a Poet isn't recommended to people who are hoping for a relatively straightforward story with just a few token weird scenes; the film doesn't have a conventional story line and is filled with disorienting imagery. However, the movie is too structured to be considered a full-fledged surrealist work. It contains comprehensible visual metaphors and symbols, draws on recognizable ideas and myths, and explores identifiable themes (such as death and resurrection). In other words, the movie is unusual because Cocteau wanted to express his ideas in a creative way and not simply because he wanted to confuse people. It's worth checking out if you're curious about the history of avant-garde cinema or want a glimpse into a unique, poetic mind.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 11/16/1999
  • UPC: 037429051931
  • Original Release: 1930
  • Rating:

  • Source: Homevision
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Lee Miller The Statue
Pauline Carton Child's Tutor
Feral Benga Black Angel
Odette Talazac
Enrique Rivero The Poet
Jean Desbordes Louis XV, masked
Fernand Dichamps
Barbette Woman in Box/at Balcony
Jean Cocteau
Lucien Jager
Technical Credits
Jean Cocteau Director, Editor, Screenwriter
Georges Auric Score Composer
Jean Gabriel D'Aubonne Art Director
Jean D'Eaubonne Production Designer
Georges Périnal Cinematographer
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