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Les Enfants Terribles [1950] [DVD]

Nicole Stéphane , Edouard Dermithe , Jean-Pierre Melville    Suitable for 12 years and over   DVD
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
Price: £5.49 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Les Enfants Terribles [1950] [DVD] + Orphée [DVD] [1950] + Jean Cocteau Boxset [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: Nicole Stéphane, Edouard Dermithe, Renée Cosima, Jacques Bernard, Melvyn Martin
  • Directors: Jean-Pierre Melville
  • Format: PAL, Subtitled, Black & White, Full Screen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Bfi
  • DVD Release Date: 30 Aug 2004
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002GZA4S
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 53,204 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

A film by Jean-Pierre Melville
From the novel by Jean Cocteau

In this compelling tale of incestuous obsession, teenage brother and sister Paul and Elisabeth live 'like two limbs of a single body' inside their untidy shared bedroom. Within the room, they live, sleep, argue and play out their erotically charged games without heed to the real world going on around them. However, when outsiders intrude into their intensely private realm, the scene is set for tragedy.

A relatively unknown filmmaker at the time, Melville had impressed Cocteau with his striking first feature, the Occupation drama Le Silence de la mer (1947), and here he brings a cool, lucid eye to Jean Cocteau s claustrophobic, hothouse novel. Les Enfants terribles is evidence of the tension between these two dramatically different filmmakers, yet together they have created a hauntingly atmospheric film.

Spawning several imitations and most recently an inspiration for Bertolucci's The Dreamers (2003), Les Enfants terribles is dominated by a performance of fierce intensity by Nicole Stéphane as the scheming heroine Elisabeth, and music by Bach and Vivaldi forms the film's provocative, impassioned score.

DVD extras

  • Feature commentary by novelist and critic Gilbert Adair
  • Interview with actress Nicole Stéphane
  • Original poster
  • Director, writer and cast biographies
  • France | 1950 | black & white | French language with English subtitles | 102 minutes | Ratio 1.33:1 | Region 2 DVD

Product Description

Acclaimed 1950 drama (in French with English Subtitles) from director Jean-Pierre Melville, adapted by Jean Cocteau from his own novel. Shot in Black & White, it boasts a superb, fiercely intense performance from Nicole Stephane as the scheming heroine, Elisabeth, and the combination of music by Bach & Vivaldi provides a suitably provocative and impassioned score. Elisabeth is very protective of her teenage brother Paul, who is injured in a snowball fight at school and has to rest in bed most of the time. The siblings are inseparable, living in the same room, fighting, playing secret games, and rarely leaving the house; though Paul's friend Gerard often stays with them. One day Elisabeth brings home Agathe to live with them also. She bears a strong resemblance to Dargelos, a schoolboy whom Paul had a crush on, and who injured him. Paul and Agathe become attracted to each other, causing Elizabeth to be very jealous!.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Jean Cocteau's 1929 novel "les Enfants Terribles" is something something once read never forgotten. This film from 1949 with a screenplay by Cocteau who closely oversaw every aspect of the production brings the book to life Cocteau also narrates the voice over.

Siblings Elisabeth (Nicole Stephane) and Paul (Edouard Demithe) have a quasi incestuous relationship sleeping in the same bedroom, the aggressive Elisabeth constantly arguing with her brother, and sharing obsessive behaviour collecting useless "treasures" and sharing secrets.

They are later joined in this cluttered hothouse existence by Gerard (Jaques Bernard) and Agathe (Renee Cosima).

Cocteau draws us in to an unnatural but possible world of perverted adolescence, illuminated by the magic of his writing.

Highly recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Only 4 reviews??? 4 Dec 2013
I don't often write reviews partly because I'm a lazy so-and-so and partly because for most things that I would review there are already plenty - but not so with this movie - This is a lot better than the 3 one/two star reviews would have you believe ( they seem to be Melville fans grumbling about this being unlike his other movies ) though it is a rather silly film in some ways - for instance having twentysomethings playing schoolkids/teenagers - it's also got a lot going for it though whether I can articulate exactly what I'm not so sure....I'm really here to bump up it's overall rating....
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5 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Terrible 12 Jun 2011
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Much as I admire the BFI's attempts to bring us unusual and overlooked films, this one is a real dud.

The protagonists come across as childish and spoilt adults (because they are adults), not as childlike adolescents and so I quickly lost interest in their tirades. The staging and acting is very theatrical and the budget must either have been minuscule, or the cast and crew spent the money on wine, and who could blame them. I certainly felt like hitting the bottle after seeing this.

I have never seen 'Belle Et La Bête' which is supposed to be Cocteau's masterpiece and was looking forward to it. Now, I'm not so sure.

This 1949 film is in black and white; the print quality is adequate; the sound quality is reasonably good and, for what it's worth, the DVD is well subtitled.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Only one star for me 6 Mar 2013
By ed
I agree with Eyon's view above about this film. I find Nicole Stéphane's performance over acting and very dull movie overall. I fell asleep half way through. And it is not that I do not like old films, on the contrary I watch b/w movies all the time and many silent films as well but I was very disappointed about this film. The film has been described as one of the best French films to watch, but unfortunately not for me.
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6 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Let's blame Cocteau 26 Aug 2007
This is a film I wish Jean-Pierre Melville never made. It's so removed from his milieu that I can't help being reminded of Alfred Hitchcock's involvement with the romantic comedy, MR AND MRS SMITH. It seems, however, that Melville wanted to do it so he has only himself to blame.

Here we are treated to a couple of overbearing teenagers orphaned early in the story -- apparently without emotional effect. Their story in the first part of the film is mostly confined to their shared bedroom in which torment each other at the top of their lungs. Some people are fascinated by this psychopathology, but it was pure hell for me.

Nicole Stéphane as the sister has been revered for her performance -- yet I found it constantly over-the-top. I tolerated the performance of the actor playing the brother, Edouard Dermithe, better -- while he was roundly jeered by the critics. Because I don't speak French, I am reacting to only part of his performance.

An hour into the movie, and 46 minutes before the end, the film finally opens up and shows some momentum. That's about the time the American appears. He sings a pleasant ballad with a pleasant-enuf voice. Then the film begins to descend again, but it ends before it sinks to previous depths.

Jean Cocteau's source novel is considered a classic. Many people rank this film as a classic. That may be all you need to know about it.

If, like me, you want to see everything Melville did, than you have already decided to see this film. Just be aware that it is nothing like Melville's others ... I'm happy to say.
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