Les Enfants Terribles [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1950]

Two of the French cinema's greatest talents, Jean Cocteau and Jean Pierre Melville, collaborated on this remarkable film, with Melville directing from a screenplay by Cocteau, based on his novel. Les Enfants Terribles has been given a first-rate DVD release in this special edition from the Criterion Collection. Les Enfants Terribles has been brought to disc in its original Academy aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and the high-definition transfer looks excellent, rendering cinematographer Henri Decae's black and white images with precise clarity. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono, and sounds very good indeed, especially for a film shot in 1950. The dialogue is in the original French, with optional English subtitles. The film is also accompanied by an optional commentary track, in which critic Gilbert Adair shares his thoughts about Melville's approach to Cocteau's story. Other bonus materials include a 2003 television interview with actress Nicole Stephane, a short documentary on Cocteau and Melville's collaboration on the film (featuring interviews with actor Jacques Bernard, producer Carole Weisweiller and assistant director Claude Pinoteau), a chat with film writer Jean Narboni and historian Dominique Paini as they discuss who is the film's true author, a gallery of production stills and the film's original French trailer. In addition, the accompanying booklet features sketches by Cocteau, a 1971 interview with Melville on the movie, an essay by Nicole Stephane and an appreciation of the film from Gary Indiana. This top-shelf release of Les Enfants Terribles offers further evidence that Criterion has no peer in bringing classic European cinema to North American DVD.
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Overview

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 Noël Simsolo discussing Cocteau and Melville's creative relationship
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Gallery of behind-the-scenes stills
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • Plus: A bookplet 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

Synopsis

Les Enfants Terribles
Adapted by Jean Cocteau from his own novel and directed by Jean-Pierre Melville, Les Enfants Terribles is set in motion when a sensitive youth, Paul (Edouard Dermit), is injured by a snowball flung by school bully Dargelos (Renée Cosima, an actress in male drag). The bully later reappears in the form of a young girl, Agathe (played again by Cosima), with whom Paul becomes infatuated. This arouses the displeasure of Paul's sister, Elisabeth (Nicole Stephane), who also harbors a carnal desire for her brother. Elisabeth arranges to destroy Paul's romance, forcing Agathe to marry another. The sister gets her comeuppance in a perversely indirect fashion at the hands of the male bully Dargelos. This film was completed in 1952, but not released in the U.S. until 1975. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

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    Nicole Stephane - Elisabeth
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    Edouard Dermit - Paul
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    Renée Cosima - Dargelos/Agathe
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    Jacques Bernard - Gerard
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    Roger Gaillard - Gerard's Uncle
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