The Dream-Flood of a Filmmaker

9 Sep 2013: The Blood of a Poet (DVD, 1930, Jean Cocteau)

Probably the most symbolic and elusive in its meaning of the Orpheus Trilogy of films, this film asserts the most strongly the uniqueness of Cocteau’s mystical cinematic poetry even if it’s not quite as easy at first to lock into its profound metaphors. Because of this elusiveness it evokes the surreality of Buñuel while speaking more directly with the cosmic than the comical (not to imply that either filmmaker avoids either of these arenas, but the mode of access is a little different for each). There’s something in Cocteau’s filmmaking tone that feels childlike in its wonder yet non-exclusively adult (i.e. universal to the consciousness of all ages, if not moreso to those of a younger age who are closer to artists) in its thematic maturity – a snowball fight leads to a dead, sacrificed boy, as the poet-painter himself is sacrificed to his art, swimming through a vast mirror toward a playful card game with devastating consequences. In a way its story and content are as self-reflective as the work of a Quentin Tarantino, the difference consisting in how each artist’s self is defined: the latter through a video-store-worker’s obsession with obscure B movies, the former through transcendental strivings in various disciplines on the part of a man with a diverse group of art-world-shaking friends. Though I’m impressed or entertained by a great deal of Tarantino’s work, the resonant dreamworlds of Cocteau grasp for (what I, at least, choose to label as) a deeper part of my being – the unstylized, the unknown, the infinite.

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