Jean-Pierre Melville

Les enfants terribles

Les enfants terribles

Writer Jean Cocteau and director Jean-Pierre Melville joined forces for this elegant adaptation of Cocteau’s immensely popular, wicked novel about the wholly unholy relationship between a brother and sister. Elisabeth (a remarkable Nicole Stéphane) and Paul (Edouard Dermithe) close themselves off from the world by playing an increasingly intense series of mind games with the people who dare enter their lair—until romance and jealousy intrude. Melville’s operatic camera movements and Cocteau’s perverse, poetic approach to character merge in Les enfants terribles to create one of French cinema's greatest, and most surprising, meetings of the minds.

Film Info

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Audio commentary by writer, film critic, and journalist Gilbert Adair
  • Interviews with producer Carole Weisweiller, actors Nicole Stéphane and Jacques Bernard, and assistant director Claude Pinoteau
  • Around Jean Cocteau (2003), a short video by filmmaker Noel Simsolo discussing Cocteau and Melville's creative relationship
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Gallery of behind-the-scenes stills
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by critic Gary Indiana, a tribute by Stéphane, an excerpt from Rui Nogueira's Melville on Melville, and drawings by Cocteau

New cover by Lucien S. Y. Yang

Purchase Options

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Audio commentary by writer, film critic, and journalist Gilbert Adair
  • Interviews with producer Carole Weisweiller, actors Nicole Stéphane and Jacques Bernard, and assistant director Claude Pinoteau
  • Around Jean Cocteau (2003), a short video by filmmaker Noel Simsolo discussing Cocteau and Melville's creative relationship
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Gallery of behind-the-scenes stills
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by critic Gary Indiana, a tribute by Stéphane, an excerpt from Rui Nogueira's Melville on Melville, and drawings by Cocteau

New cover by Lucien S. Y. Yang

Les enfants terribles
Cast
Nicole Stéphane
Elisabeth
Edouard Dermithe
Paul
Renee Cosima
Agathe/Dargelos
Jacques Bernard
Gerard
Melvyn Martin
Michael
Roger Gaillard
Gerard's uncle
Maurice Revel
The doctor
Adeline Aucoc
Mariette
Jean Cocteau
Voice
Credits
Director
Jean-Pierre Melville
Based on the novel by
Jean Cocteau
Screenplay
Jean Cocteau
Assistant director
Claude Pinoteau
Cinematography
Henri Decaë
Sound editing
Jacques Gallois
Sound editing
Jacques Carrère
Editing
Monique Bonnot
Costumes
Christian Dior

From The Current

From the Melville Archives
From the Melville Archives

On the ninety-ninth anniversary of Jean-Pierre Melville’s birth, we’ve gathered a selection of essays, photos, and videos that showcase the best of the iconic director’s varied oeuvre.

On Film / Short Takes
Oct 20, 2016
Haskell Wexler’s Top 10

For Haskell Wexler, the director of Medium Cool, and the Oscar-winning cinematographer of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Bound for Glory, writing about his ten favorite Criterion films became a trip down memory lane.


May 28, 2013
Bonjour Les Enfants

Original 1950 French release poster of Les enfants terribles, featuring a drawing by Jean Cocteau


Oct 21, 2010
Les enfants terribles:
Hazards of a Snowball Fight

Adapted from the famed samizdat novel of the French Resistance, Jean-Pierre Melville’s first feature, Le silence de la mer (1949), despite critical and commercial success, gained its director little glory: overshadowed by the book and the celebrity…

By Gary Indiana


Jul 10, 2007

Explore

Jean-Pierre Melville

Director

Though remembered now primarily for his intense, spare 1960s gangster films, French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville had a startlingly varied career, encompassing wartime dramas, psychosexual character studies, and a collaboration with Jean Cocteau. Jean-Pierre Grumbach (he would eventually change his name to Melville to honor the American author of Moby Dick) fought during World War II, first in the French army and then in the Resistance; those experiences would often inspire his work to come. After the war ended, he pursued his love of film with dogged obsession. Though a lover of classical studio directors (William Wyler and John Huston among them), Melville worked mostly independently, even building his own studio. It was this fierce do-it-yourself attitude, and such startling, uncompromising films as Les enfants terribles and Bob le flambeur, that appealed to the filmmakers of the French New Wave, who adopted Melville as a godfather of sorts (Godard even famously gave him a cameo in Breathless). During the New Wave, however, Melville went his own way, making highly idiosyncratic crime films—classically mounted if daringly existential—that were beholden to no trend, including Le doulos, Le deuxième soufflé, and Le samouraï. His most personal movie was Army of Shadows, which, though misunderstood upon its initial French release in 1969, is now widely considered a masterpiece. Melville died of a heart attack in 1973 at the age of fifty-five.