The Blood of a Poet Review

Jean Cocteau believes “every poem is a coat of arms,” and The Blood of a Poet goes a long way in trying to prove that. Its fixation with art as the great purveyor of new ideas is courageous and expected of this avant-garde feature from the 1930s. Flailing through an artistic lifestyle, Cocteau preserves the idea that art should be there to confuse and chastise an audience but teach those who are truly engaging with it. It is the fine line between smacking the audience for engaging with it and rewarding them for sticking around. Artistry at its finely-tuned best, The Blood of a Poet perseveres as a great example of early avant-garde filmmaking with just a small pool of problems.

No poet is this buff. They are all vessels for creativity. Shrunken people whose creativity explores the world around them and their fears. The Blood of a Poet is not just entertaining but strikingly unique. Its score provides a jolly tone and is not quite in contrast to the terror on screen. Had David Cronenberg or John Carpenter tried their hand at a man with a mouth attached to his hand, they perhaps travelled down darker roads. Cocteau expresses a fascination with this unlikely turn of events. The Poet (Enrique Rivero) is not let down or aghast, but frustrated that a drawing he was no fan of has latched onto his own body. It is the negation of expected ideas that makes The Blood of a Poet so unique, and how Cocteau presents the special effects of a mouth on the hand of an artist is stunning.

Disturbances of the flesh abound in this Cocteau art piece. Rivero is strong in the leading role. He responds to the mouth that speaks from his hand and proves to be just as strong in the panicked fear of the impossible occurring as he is during the moments of quieter solitude and keen ideas that progress the story. A script that is dependent on the actions of the poet exploring the possibilities of something so strange, The Blood of a Poet uses its running time well. Within it are plenty of strange opportunities to play around with the limited props available. Cocteau’s utilisation of special effects to bring statues to life and mirrors turn to portals. What helps The Blood of the Poet is a message within it. It is not a barrage of colour and light and new perspectives that make little sense but an offering that showcases a handful of variables and sporadic changes to the usual expectations.

Nothing short of boundless imagination, The Blood of a Poet is a visual thrill and surreal filmmaking at its finest. Its visuals provide not just a point to the perspective at hand, but a place for the narration to overcome the odds and provide a storyline to this erratic, fantastic film. A mirror that turns to water, a statue that begins to talk and the void that joins it all together are fascinating. Cocteau manages to place within The Blood of a Poet a hefty list of simplistic details that form extravagant scenes and gifted technical effects. Rivero, suspended in animation in a black void is a chilling scene, followed up by odds and ends that blur the line between lifestyle commentary and darker realisations for an artist whose sanity is on the cusp of visual madness.

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