The Blood of a Poet

The Blood of a Poet with Un Chant d’Amour

Dir. Jean Cocteau. 1932, 55 mins. 16mm. With Lee Miller, Enrique Rivero, Pauline Carton. Often mistaken for a surrealist work, this is a carefully constructed, entirely conscious artifact, mingling symbol and metaphor to project the anguish, apotheosis, and corruption of the struggling artist. This entails the passing through the mirror into another world, the fantastic combinations of unrelated events in space and time, and its brilliant central metaphor: the dynamiting of a huge factory chimney at the beginning of the work, interrupted in the middle by the film’s action and completed only at the end by its total collapse; an intimation that the film represents the equivalent of a one-second dream.

Preceded by:
Un Chant d’Amour
Dir. Jean Genet. 1950, 26 mins. 16mm. With André Reybaz, Java, Coco Le Martiniquais, Lucien Sénémaud. Genet’s only film—hounded by the censors, unavailable, secret—is an early and remarkably moving attempt to portray homosexual passions. Already a classic, it succeeds as perhaps no other film to intimate the explosive power of frustrated sex; male prisoners in solitary confinement “embracing” walls, ramming them in erotic despair with erect penis, swaying convulsively to auto-erotic lust, kissing their own bodies and tattoos in sexual frenzy.

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