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Jean Cocteau

Jean Cocteau

“When I make a film, it is a sleep in which I am dreaming,” Jean Cocteau once wrote. That evocation of his cinema as an ethereal, unconscious alternate reality was no mere philosophical statement; the approach can be felt in the mood, texture, and structure of his movies. A true artist of the cinematic form, Cocteau, in just a handful of films—some of which he directed, some of which he wrote, but to all of which he contributed his unique vision and craft—created an unparalleled dream world. He was also a poet, novelist, playwright, and painter, and all of those disciplines are reflected in his films—from the prewar, avant-garde, surrealist The Blood of a Poet to the fairy-tale masterpiece Beauty and the Beast to the Jean-Pierre Melville collaboration Les enfants terribles and the contemporary takes on classical mythology Orpheus and Testament of Orpheus. Each of these works is a visually innovative exploration of art, sex, love, and death—mementos of one of cinema’s most richly creative minds.