Les Enfants Terribles

1950, Movie, NR, 107 mins


Two seemingly disparate filmmakers--Jean-Pierre Melville, best known for his dark black-and-white ventures into the criminal underworld, and Jean Cocteau, the poet of the mythical underworld--came together to bring Cocteau's celebrated play of love, death, and incest to the screen. Paul (Edouard Dermit), a young Parisian, is severely injured when hit by a snowball thrown by Dargelos (Renee Cosima), the school bully whom he idolizes. He is cared for by his sister Elisabeth (Nicole Stephane), with whom he shares a bedroom, though both are in their teens. The near-incestuous pair are brought closer together by the death of their ailing mother and are joined by Paul's friend Gerard (Jacques Bernard), who is infatuated with Elisabeth. The trio eventually becomes a quartet when Paul meets his sister's friend Agathe (Cosima, in a dual, cross-gender role). As the relationships intertwine, Elisabeth is forced to admit her attraction to her brother. Melville, who was given the chance to direct this prestigious property after Cocteau saw one of his early 16mm films, shot LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES in his own apartment, which he rented with the intention of using it as a location. The film also unmistakably bears Cocteau's stamp, and he even directed one scene (at the beach) when Melville fell ill. leave a comment

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Les Enfants Terribles (The Criterion Collection)
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