Archive for Jean Marais

Casares Through the Looking Glass

Posted in FILM, Mythology with tags , , , , , , on July 29, 2016 by dcairns

vlcsnap-2016-07-29-14h07m09s524

It had been YEARS since I watched Cocteau’s ORPHÉE, so when Fiona got a free copy from Criterion as reward to her contribution to my vid essay on CARNIVAL OF SOULS, I was eager to run it.

When I last saw it, did all the talk about the dead, who are forbidden to love, strike me as having resonance with Cocteau’s outlaw sexuality? I feel like it didn’t, but now it seems inescapable, though of course Cocteau was right to dismiss any overall symbolic intent. It’s more like the film tells its own story, quite literally and shamelessly, but also exists in a nexus of intersecting possible meanings, none of which is THE meaning.

Elaborating on the source myth, Cocteau creates two couples, except they’re not couples… another nexus is created, this time of yearning. There’s Jean Marais as the title poet-superstar (scarcely a plausible job description except when you remember, oh yeah, Cocteau was one), married to Eurydice, Marie Déa, whom he neglects. Then there’s Maria Casares as Death, or A Death anyhow, who is in love with Orph, and Heurtebise (François Périer), Death’s driver, a student who recently committed suicide, who falls in love with Mrs. O.

vlcsnap-2016-07-29-14h08m02s992

The black dress has changed to a white dress within the same scene. Apart from THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE AND HER LOVER, what other films do this?

By film’s end, throwing out the Greeks altogether, Cocteau has contrived an implausible happy ending for the living characters, while leaving the dead ones to face an uncertain but clearly unpleasant punishment for their transgressions against the Natural Order. And they’re not even facing this punishment along with the one/s they love. Death and her chauffeur enjoy a pretty snarky relationship through much of the film, but by the end they stand united, and Herteubise, along with Eurydice the one really sympathetic character, seems to respect Death for her sacrifice, for the way she’s put herself in harm’s way first to pursue the one she loves, then to make sure he’s OK.

The message would see to be: some (the living) have happiness as their right; others (the dead) are forbidden to love and are doomed to unhappiness.

vlcsnap-2016-07-29-14h11m45s992

Cocteau felt bad enough about this that he let the characters return in LE TESTAMENT D’ORPHÉE to give him a hard time for dropping them in it.

Advertisements

Aslant

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on March 6, 2014 by dcairns

vlcsnap-2014-03-04-17h33m25s18

Jean Marais meets the Thompson Twins from TINTIN?

I promised you more Dutch tilts, and Christian-Jaque’s VOYAGE SANS ESPOIR has them. Also: huge fog-shrouded sets with miniatures in the distance (tiny light-house with working beam!); rogue’s gallery of shifty sailors; doomed love; cryptic coppers; waterfront dives; desperate fugitives; shimmering light and crushed shadows.

At The Forgotten. Now GO!

Moulouk

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on January 12, 2014 by dcairns

Ace Shadowplayer Anne Billson writes in The Telegraph about Cocteau’s LA BELLE ET LA BETE, and mentions the story that the Beast’s makeup design was based on star Jean Marais’s dog, Moulouk.

I immediately wanted to find a picture of Moulouk to see if there was really a resemblance. There are lots of pics online, as it turns out, but this is the BEST —

3c934382-ec80-11dd-8ca2-060132f210ea

The silly joy on the faces of both man and dog makes me insanely happy!

And Moulouk doesn’t look enormously like the Beast, but things don’t have to be literal (which is one of the lessons of the film, by the way).

When Henri Alekan attended Edinburgh Film Festival, Fiona asked him about how he lit the Beast as if he were a beautiful woman, with soft focus, a strip of light across the eyes, etc. “But ‘ee was beautiful, no?”