Cocteau. Cocteau may be the most inventive mind in an arftorm filled with geniuses– some of the 20th and 21st century’s greatest artists. His case is those top two films—both on the top 100 of their respective decade—and his influence. In many ways he’s the godfather of fantasy. The case against Cocteau is the lack of body of work here- Cocteau wasn’t just a filmmaker- he was a poet and the depth here in the filmography is telling (3 total archiveable films).
Best film: Beauty and the Beast. I wouldn’t have a big problem if someone wanted to argue for Orpheus either but I do think the set design and imaginative mise-en-scene in Beauty and the Beast is peak-Cocteau.
total archiveable films: 3
top 100 films: 0
top 500 films: 1 (Beauty and the Beast)
top 100 films of the decade: 2 (Beauty and the Beast, Orpheus)
most overrated: I haven’t seen it in ages but I’d have Orpheus at least 200 slots below the TSPDT critical consensus spot (#339 right now).
most underrated: None here for me. Beauty and the Beast is #270 on the TSPDT list and I’m at #346. Pretty close in the scheme of things.
gem I want to spotlight : Orpheus. With three archiveable films sometimes the most overrated and gem I wanted to spotlight overlap—haha. The mirror surrealism sequence is in just about every exhaustive book on cinema for a reason.
stylistic innovations/traits: Most auteurs borrow from others—very few—maybe Melies, Bunuel, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Ozu, Griffith, Welles—seem to be true originals – Cocteau is on this list. Even others that you may add to this list (Rivette comes to mind—Miyazaki) are clearly influenced by Cocteau. Cocteau is film fantasy—surrealism. The inventive use of décor and the camera to create living dreams. Cocteau blended the avant-garde and fantasy and the results can still be felt in 21st century cinema when you watch Tim Burton, Peter Jackson, Gilliam, del Toro, Jeunet.
- Beauty and the Beast
- The Testament of Orpheus
By year and grades
|1946- Beauty and the Beast||MS|
|1960- The Testament of Orpheus||R|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives