Jean Cocteau: The "Jacques"-of-All-Arts

Imagine being so talented that you could work in every medium of fine and performing arts and be hailed for what you created in each category. Jean Cocteau was just such a person. Painter, designer, playwright, novelist, poet, set and costume designer, illustrator, film-maker and librettist for operas and ballets, Cocteau was also a close friend of all the notable names of modern art and culture through the first half of the twentieth century. Learn more about his amazing output here.

 Four of Cocteau's films are considered classics and all are available in restored deluxe editions from Criterion Film Collection. Beauty and the Beast is a witty, re-imagining of Perrault's classic French fairy-tale. Three films made over the course of thirty years use the mythical Greek musician Orpheus as a way to understand human creativity and the universal journey from birth to death.

The Orphic Trilogy: The Blood of the Poet (1930), Orpheus (1949) and The Testament of Orpheus (1959)

Cocteau also wrote the text for several operas. Below are scenes from two of them Oedipus Rex with music by Igor Stravinsky (composer of Rite of Spring) and The Human Voice by Francis Poulenc (composer of Dialogues of the Carmelites which we saw during the lecture on the guillotine in class).

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