LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES
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.
- 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
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!.