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ONCE upon a time, in a land none other than that vague country we call Fairyland, there lived a merchant who had been ruined by losing his ships at sea as they were returning home, laden with merchandise. He had three daughters and a son. The latter, called Ludovic, was a charming scamp ; he was always getting into trouble with his friend, Avenant. Two of the daughters, Felicie and Adelaide, were very wicked, and had made a slave out of the third daughter, Beauty, and had treated her as the Cinderella of the family. Amongst all their bickerings and troubles, Beauty serves at table and polishes the floor. Avenant loves her. He asks her to marry him, but she refuses. She thinks she ought to remain unmarried and live with her father, a good man if a little weak. He has just received some good news. One of his ships, which he believed lost, has reached harbour after all. People of fashion who had pre viously ignored him, again make their calls. Again Felicie and Adelaide clamour for dresses and jewels. Ludovic borrows money from a usurer. As her father rides away to the harbour, Beauty asks him to bring her back a rose, 'for none grow here'.
That's where the story begins. The sisters laugh at her request which she made rather than ask for nothing. When the merchant reaches the quay he finds to his dis may that his creditors have got there first, and seized the ship and all his goods, leaving him nothing, not even enough to pay for a single night's lodging at one of the inns. There is nothing he can do but ride back through Page 1
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM the thick forest, though night has already fallen. It is obvious as he rides into the mist that the poor man will lose his way. He hunts for the path by leading his horse by its bridle, and he sees a light which the branches part to reveal. He steps forward and finds himself on a bridle path. Then the branches close behind him. Before him is an immense empty castle, bristling with riddles: candles which light themselves and statues which seem to be alive. He comes to a terrifying table, loaded with wine and fruit; but, worn out, he sits down only to sleep. The death cry of some wild animal in the distance wakes him. He flies for his life. He loses his way again, and then, finding himself in an arbour of roses, he remembers Beauty's strange request, which is now the only one he will be able to fulfil. He picks one. Immediately the echoes of his cries: * Hello! Is there anyone there?' are answered by a terrible voice roaring: 'Who's there!' He turns and stands before the Beast, who looks like a great nobleman, except that his hands and face are those of a Beast of prey. Whereupon the Beast pronounces the mysterious theme of the story: 'You have stolen my roses, therefore you must die. Unless one of your daughters will die in your place.' It is very probable that this rose is one of the jaws of a trap set through all eternity which will now ensnare Beauty. 10
The father is given a horse called Magnificent to ride home on. All he has to do is to whisper in its ear: 'Go where I wish, Magnificent go, go, go!' And no doubt this horse is the other lip of the trap. The sisters are fiirious. Beauty offers to go to the Beast, Father refuses. Avenant is angry and, in the middle of a violent scene, the old man collapses, and Beauty seizes the opportunity to escape through the night. Mounting Page 2
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Magnificent, she whispers the magic password, and gal lops towards her martyrdom. But once in the Beast's castle, Beauty finds a different fate from the one she expected. The trap has worked well. The Beast surrounds her with luxury and kindness, for though he looks ferocious, he has a kind heart. He suffers because of his ugliness and his ugliness moves one to pity. Gradually Beauty will also be moved by it, but her father is ill. A magic mirror shows him to her. She falls ill. The Beast, finally, opens his trap. Beauty is given eight days in which to go home to her father, under a promise that she will return to the castle. The Beast has several magic objects which are the secrets of his power. To show his trust in Beauty he gives them to her; his glove which will take her where she wishes, the golden key which opens the Pavilion of Diana where his treasure is piled, and which no one must touch till his death. 'I know your heart,' he says to Beauty, 'and this key will be the pledge of your return/ Once home, Beauty's jewels excite the jealousy of her sisters. They try flattery on her, and then, to dupe her, feign tears to move her to pity and so prevent her from returning to the castle, for they want to turn her into a servant again. By this trick Beauty is made to break her
promise, and then no longer dares to return. Felicie and Adelaide steal her golden key. Magnificent gallops up. He is the only magic object that the Beast did not give away. That and the mirror on his back. Without doubt these have been sent as a last appeal from her forsaken love. But it is not Beauty who rides Magnificent to the Page 3
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM castle, but Ludoyic and Avenant, whom the Sisters have persuaded to kill the Beast and steal his treasure. They give them the golden key. Looking into the magic mirror Beauty sees the Beast weeping. She is all alone. She puts on the glove. She is in the castle. Where is the Beast? She calls, she runs all over the garden looking for him, and finds him beside the lake. Meanwhile Ludovic and Avenant have reached the Pavilion of Diana. Fearing some trap they dare not use the key. So they climb on to the roof of the Pavilion and, through the fanlight, they see the treasure and a statue of Diana over which snow falls as it used to do in those glass balls which one had as a child. Ludovic is afraid. Avenant breaks one of the panes of glass. He is a doubting Thomas: 'It is only glass' he cries. Ludovic can't hold on to his hands any more, Avenant decides to jump down into the Pavilion and scramble out the best way he can afterwards. Beauty is kneeling by the lake beside the Beast. She begs him to listen to her. Lying on his back, the Beast murmurs: 'Too late.' Beauty is almost at the point of saying: I love you.' Back at the Pavilion Avenant is about to let himself down through the broken pane. Just then the statue of Diana moves, raises her bow, aims. The arrow strikes him in the back. Ludovic, terrified, sees Avenant's face 12
contorted witii agony as it turns into the Beast's. He falls. It was at that very moment that the Beast became transformed under Beauty's eyes as they filled with love, for it is only this look from a young girl which can break Page 4
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM the curse. Beauty steps back for now a Prince Charming stands, bowing, before her explaining his metamorphosis. This Prince Charming looks extraordinarily like Avenant ; and the likeness worries Beauty. It is as if she were still mourning for the kind Beast, and as though she were a little afraid of this new Avenant. But the end of a fairy story is the end of a fairy story, and Beauty is docile. And with the Prince with three faces she flies away where, as he says : 'You shall be a great Queen, where you will find your father, and where your sisters will carry your train.'
I have decided to write a diary of La Belle et la Bete as the work on the film progresses. After a year of preparations and difficulties, the moment has now come to grapple with a dream. Apart from the numerous obstacles which exist in getting a dream on to celluloid, the problem is to make a film within the limits imposed by strict economy. But perhaps these limitations may stimu late imagination which is often lethargic when all means are placed at its disposal. Everybody knows the story of Madame Leprince de Beaumont, a story often attributed to Perrault, because it comes from 'Peau d'Ane' between those bewitching covers of the Bibliotheque Rose. The story requires faith, the faith of childhood. I mean that one must believe implicitly at the very beginning and not question that the mere gathering of a rose might involve a family upheaval, or whether a man can be changed into a beast, and vice versa. Such beliefs will offend the grown-ups who are always ready to condemn with derision those whose humble faith offends them. But I have the impudence to believe that the cinema Page 5
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which can depict the impossible may convince even them and turn such dreams into realities. It is up to us, (that is, to me and my unit, in fact, one entity) to avoid those particular things which can break the spell of a fairy story, for when it comes to sequence, the world of make-believe is at least as suscept ible as the world of reality. For fantasy has its own laws which are as rigid as those of perspective. One can focus on what is distant, and hide what is near, but the style remains defined and is so deli cate that the slightest false note jars. I am not saying that I have achieved this, but that is what I shall attempt within the means at my disposal. My method is simple ; not to aim at poetry. That must come of its own accord. The very word whispered will frighten it away. I shall try to build a table. It will be up to you to eat at it, to criticize it, or to chop it up for firewood.
Sunday, August 26th, 1945. At last, after a year of every sort of difficulty I am go ing to start shooting tomorrow. It would be stupid to complain of these difficulties, inherent in such a task; they must be taken for granted. Such hitches impede activity, while we stand and wait and doze but think of the lovely dreams. And what's more, it will give us the opportunity -to do what we like with human time which is normally so painful in its rigidity. To break time up, turn it inside out and upside down, will be to triumph over the inevitable. Page 6
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM To add to the confusion of the endless meetings over the scenery, the costumes, and searching for the exteriors, I have had to add daily visits to the doctors, to say nothing of those of the nurses to me. For as a result of sunstroke, followed by the poisonous bites of mosquitoes, I came back from my holiday with two carbuncles on my chest. But this exhausting existence hasn't tired me in the least. The film possesses me, sustains me, and makes me insensible to distractions. It takes me from the soft an guish of idleness and drives me from any room where I cannot work. Watching Christian Berard at work is an extra ordinary sight. At Paquin's, surrounded by tulle and ostrich feathers, smeared with charcoal, covered with perspiration and spots, his beard on fire, his shirt hanging out, he gives to luxury a profound significance. Be tween his small ink-stained hands, the costumes cease to be mere props and take on the arrogant actuality of fashion. He makes us realize that a period dress is not merely a costume but a fashion which belonged to a period and changed with it. People dressed by Berard look as though they lived at a place, in a definite period, and not as though they were going to a fancy dress ball. By a miracle, he has succeeded in merging the style of Ver Meer with that of the illustrations of Gustave Dore to Perrault's stories which are in the big book with the red and gold cover. What impresses me in these big dressmaking houses, is the love, care and grace with which the women work. Three or four old women, who used to embroider theatre costumes for Gaby Deslys and Ida Rubinstein, have a real genius which will die with them. I saw the dresses this morning in the farmyard at 16 Page 7
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Rochecorbon where I am shooting. They were hanging In the sun, side by side, like Bluebeard's wives, only lifeless. They lacked their souls, and the soul of a dress is a body. We reached Tours at five o'clock yesterday. Paris was covered in clouds as we left. But gradually the sky cleared on the way out, till the thin little clouds were ruffled like lace over this scenery which inspires me. The Loire flowed through Touraine flat beneath sun-bleached sky. Rochecorbon 1 again found the tiny manor built below the level of the road, which I had luckily stumbled across when first looking for a location. The Dotnaines had pointed it out to us, along with fifty others. The gate by the road didn't look very promising. We very nearly didn't bother to get out of the car. Then all at one glance I recognized, down to the smallest detail, the exact setting that I had become resigned to having to build. The man who lived there looked exactly like the merchant in the story, and his son said to me: c lf you had come yesterday you would have heard your own voice. I was playing your poetry records over to my father.' On top of this the iron rings for tethering the horses are made in the shape of some fabulous beast. Here are the windows for the wicked sisters, doors and staircase, wash-house, orchard, stables, dog-kennel, watering cans, tomatoes ripening on the windowsills, vegetables, firewood, the spring, the chicken-run, the ladders! Everything is already there, and what's more, the interior is as good as the exterior, and this hidden quality shines through the walls. All that we have to do is to move the sun, that is to say to set our scenes so that we get its light. That was our job for the day, in the middle of which the assistant cameraman and electricians were unrolling cables and 17
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM stage-hands were fitting up their platforms, some out side and others in the barns. At eight o'clock tomorrow morning I shall set up the scene of the drying sheets. I shall shoot this scene because the light is right, and we are still waiting for certain equipment.
Monday morning, J '.JO, This morning I must begin to solidify something that I have dreamed about for a long time, something, as it were, seen on an invisible screen, now must be modelled in space and time. And one has to do it in bits, back wards, forwards, before, after, in such a way that the editing can give it continuity and life. But our first job is to set up these lanes of drying sheets so that we get the same theatrical perspective as at Vicence, but set up out here where our only light is the mobile sun. We must remember to wet the sheets so as to make them more transparent. We must plant clothes-props that will stand up straight, split bamboos for clothes-pegs, and counter too much shadow with lamps. We must avoid the fore ground which won't match the background of the orchard and then replace the painted back-cloth of the orchard, where Beauty goes and sits when Avenant draws back the first sheet as if it were a theatre curtain, to show the bench against its background of white lanes. And above all we must remember never to mention the word 'cord' which is taboo in film work under pain of a fine. It is all such a mixture of realism and fantasy that I could not sleep and exhausted myself trying to foresee the diffi culties. 18
The artists: Mila Parely, Nane Germon, Marais, Michel Auclair will all be there at nine. I shall make them up, dress them, dirty them, until they look all right for a story where dirt is not dirt, for as Goethe Page 9
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM says, truth and reality contradict each other (like a shadow which throws a reflection as it does in that en graving of Rubens). We shall lunch on the set.
Monday evening, 7.30. A tough beginning in wonderful weather which became overcast at about five o'clock. It was very sultry. I had to struggle against the wine which the owner of the house had forced me to drink, in spite of there being water from a spring so clear that the animals take the trough to be empty. There are washing places, streams and little waterfalls wherever one looks. The d6cor was one of those that I had to make with my own hands. Nobody could help me. To start with, the clothes props bent, the clothes lines weren't long enough, the sheets were too short and there weren't enough of them. To crown all, the wind got up, making them billow, and ruined their perspectives. The costumes stood out marvellously against the walls of linen, and made fine shadows through them. But, worse luck, at five o'clock it clouded over and the storm made me stop work on the ensembles; and, as I had to Jt use lamps, I did some close-ups. Mila poses, poses decomposes. The camera develops a perceptible tremor. The electri cians and workmen try to fix it, but can't, so we stop. 19
To the firm it's an everyday occurrence, but to me another matter. My work has been interrupted in fall flight. I quit. I throw in. I collapse. I go back to Tours worn out with fatigue, with the wine and disappointment. I had hoped that the fine weather would last, and that I could break my run of bad luck. I was naive. The same old difficulties pursue me, and as they appear each time from a different angle they take me unawares. Page 10
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Will we have any sun tomorrow? Will the camera work properly? What else can go wrong? I must try to get some sleep. There is nothing to do but wait. That's how it is with films. If I weren't so absorbed in the antics of this troupe in this outlandish barn, I'd enjoy the sight of the orchard and this perfect little manor house, with all the cast masquerading about, taking baths and making themselves up at a huge kitchen table outside, near the technicians who stand eating their dinner from planks laid across trestles. Kindness is often double-edged. The technicians like me, they would even quarter themselves for me. But for all that I always end up working by myself. Carne, Christian, etc. they all lose their tempers at some time, and insist on something or other, and what else can one do but listen? This evening after dinner I spoke to Darbon. I told him that I thought that it was a godsend that the camera had broken down, for his decor looked as though it had been made out of handkerchiefs and walking-sticks, fit for some charade such as I sometimes improvise with Berard in my room. I told him that it merely gave a crude idea which he must now realize, and that, whatever the sky was like tomorrow, I at least wanted to find a real set, and not just a poet's improvi sation. With that I went to bed. The sky is still overcast.
I can just see a few stars. The trees are restless. They tell me that the camera is working again, but it is possible that it still quivers just a little. Nothing is worse than risking a take only to find out afterwards that it is out of focus. I shall be fretting about this all tomorrow.
Tuesday morning, J o'clock. First thing, I look at the sky. It is overcast! Now we are going to be held up for days, with the actors all Page 11
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM ready, and able to do nothing but play cards. Delannoy warned me that one must always stand at the ready in Touraine as the weather changes in an instant. I wonder if it is not all to the good that it is cloudy now. For if it weren't I should probably be shooting with a patched-up camera I could never be sure of. If it stays like this for a few days, I may be able to get hold of another, and also have someone who can arrange the sheets properly (and a few more of them too). I've got the same unit that we used in Baron Fantome, willing and helpful. Everybody, down to the clapper-boy takes a real interest in the film, and helps the artists in all sorts of ways. You can get them to do anything you like. Which is different from the theatre, where the stage hands keep to their dark wings, and have not the slightest interest in what is going on on the stage. I was astonished to hear of the speed with which they work in America. Rene Clair told me he took from twelve to seventeen shots a day. He completed I Married a Witch in eight weeks. On the other hand their trade union difficulties are even
worse than ours. In his last picture he had to make a shot of five of his principals in a ship in mid-ocean. This had to be done outside usual working-hours. As they were three hundred yards off, he decided to make extras stand-in. The extras insisted on being paid the same salaries as the stars for whom they were doubling, and what's more, refused to go on unless the stars were also paid. Even this was impossible because the stars were working on other pictures and their union forbids them to have two contracts running at the same time. So he decided to replace the extras by painted silhouettes. Then the extras complained that the silhouettes were doing them out of work. The whole thing was impossible. Rene Clair consulted his lawyer, and was told that since the scene was one with big waves in it there was a way round the difficulty which would allow him to pro ceed. For the shot would consequently come under the Page 12
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Union of Stunt Artists. And apparently this Union alone allows one to shoot without committing an offence of one kind or another.
3 o'clock. Mila and Jean Marais brought my lunch to my room. An extraordinary luxury in this hotel (which is other wise not so bad) though Josette thinks it some one-eyed place in Tananarive. It's still cloudy but breaking up. It's all a matter of the intensity of the light; the assistants stand testing it with their orange filter glasses up to their eyes. If it's all right we can shoot, otherwise we must wait. I shall be on the set at a quarter to nine. 22
Tuesday evening, 1 1 o'clock. Very grey and overcast this morning. The clouds aren't even moving. When we reached the set it looked like a junk shop. I roused the technicians and sent them to cut planks to make X's, with a third across the top to hang the linen. Gradually this changed the look of things. The toy set became a real theatre of linen and the clothes props broke up the flat surfaces. Alekan and his assistants tested the camera. They decided to try it out on a sort of geometrically chequered target, and to put a short length of film through it, and watch through the view-finder to see if it still had a tremor. The question was how to develop ten yards of film on the spot, using a test-bath in an improvised laboratory. They managed it somehow and later I saw them washing their film in the wash-house. The camera works. And a new one will arrive tomorrow. I hurry to set everything in position for the close-ups ; for these I don't need sunlight. No sooner am I ready than the sky clears and the sun shines. But it's impossible now to go back to the scene of the merchant's departure. For that we would need Josette, Marcel Andre, the horse Page 13
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM etc. . . I go on, but now Alekan has to avoid the very sun that we've been waiting for all day, and hide it with planks. In short, fake up the half-light which we've been having all day. For now electricity plays the part of the sun. Before C16ment arrives he is finishing his film on the Resistance of the Railway Workers in Brittany and has sent me his younger brother meanwhile I must do everything myself, from pegging the sheets, knotching the clothes-props, catching the chickens and driving them on to the set, making the lanes of sheets and faking the ex23
posures. (One can't imagine what it is like in 194^ to hire twelve additional sheets. Roger Rogelys, the stage manager, has found nine for me with great difficulty. I had six before.) These alleys and wings of sheets which weren't right at first are being fixed, but thatmeans I can't takea bird's eye shot of the whole set now. Perhaps it's just as well. For if 1 tried to describe this labyrinth of linen to the reader I'd just lose him in it but it'll be all right when I show the whole box of tricks from above. I must avoid moving shots and reveal these white corridors in suc cessive shocks so that nobody will know how small the set really is. I'll leave the hanging of the sheets to the last and then I'll get them back to their proper place at the bottom of the orchard ; but I'll shoot that scene elsewhere, which is a film director's licence. This afternoon I was almost drunk with fatigue, thirst, sheets, pegs, props, and I got completely muddled up. My poor head could no longer think how to match the shots. Jean Marais saved the scene. He came and held the prop for me, and got my ideas straightened out with as Page 14
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM tonishing patience and intuition. Got home at eight o'clock. Dined with the unit and a lady journalist. She was looking for anecdotes. But hear ing us talk of cutting problems, perspectives etc. drove her mad. She must have been expecting the old chestnuts of a theatre company. How fortunate I am that the prob lems that interest me also interest the unit. Take the case of A., the make-up man. He never takes the slightest in terests in the shots, or bothers to see if his own work looks all right under the lights. He never tries to perfect anything. He sits miles away from the set reading a paper, 24
and thinks he's done enough because he has stuck on an eyelash, or powdered the back of someone's neck. Whereas everybody else puts their whole back into it, and even my cameraman listens to the advice of Aldo, the still photographer. I'm terrified tomorrow morning will be overcast. I must finish this sheet-scene with the nine o'clock sun on it. If it is overcast, I shall start setting up the merchant going off on horseback. I can only shoot this scene at five o'clock when the sun's shining obliquely on the back of the house. The worst of it is that that scene is a long one, what with the angle, paraphernalia, and scaffolding, and Marcel Andre has to be back in Paris before the others. I was forgetting the aeroplane. No sooner had we got the lights ready for a close-up of Mila, than a plane from the school flew over us, looping the loop, and ruining our sound. We telephoned the Colonel of the school, to beg him to try and stop the students from doing this some what expensive kind of showing off. He promised to do what he could.
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Wednesday morning, 7 o'clock. Awakened by a storm, with the windows wide open at the bottom of my bed. The mad trees sweep the window frame, and the lightning seemed to strike them with magnificent anger and phosphorescent pallor. Thunder rolls down all the slopes of the sky. May the clouds all burst and relieve us from this suffo cating weight.
Even whilst I write it calms a little. A pity. I had hoped for a monster of a storm which would break the weather. If it doesn't we are in the soup. It's strange that an enter prise as expensive as making films can be held entirely at the barometer's mercy.
Wednesday evening, 1 1 o'clock* I'm so tired that I have to force myself to write even these few notes. It has been overcast all day with one or two bright spells of bad light. With the greatest difficulty I have only been able to take seven shots, and these only, as it were, on the wing, by surprise. The whole earth and sky were against me. After doing the shots of Michel and Jeannot which only last a second, but took hours to prepare, I got ready for the shots of Josette, Mila, Nane and Marcel Andre behind the house. Seven o'clock is five o'clock by the sun. It appeared and then disappeared. Aeroplanes shuttled across the sky, the camera trembles ! (A new one had been sent from Paris. It imitates the eccentricities of the old one.) I was frantic (which is ex hausting) but I tried to control myself so as not to upset the others. In Touraine one has to shoot early in the morning and in the evening. And the hours in the middle of the day when we can do nothing are those in which the trade unions expect us to do everything. Here the Page 16
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM weather can change in a few minutes. The sun comes out when least expected, but if you wait for it, it never comes. It shines when you set up the scene, and dis appears the moment you give the order to shoot. I got 26
back to the hotel at seven o'clock. Maison Paquin came down this evening from Paris and they are fitting Jean Marais's costumes of the Beast and Prince Charming. The Beast is superb. The Prince is still not impressive enough though it is completely in Perrault's style. I have called the artists for 7.30 tomorrow morning. To bed. An article in the Tours paper: misrepresentations in every line. In a spirit of instinctive contradiction I am avoiding all camera movement, which is so much in the fashion that the experts think it indispensable. The scene with the linen is done flat, like a house of cards. I'm finding it very difficult to make the artists understand that the style of the film needs a lack of naturalness and a kind of super natural relief. Little is spoken. One cannot permit one self the least ambiguity. The phrases are very short and precise. The ensemble of these phrases which disconcert the actors and stop them from 'playing' , forms the cogs in a big machine, incomprehensible in detail because they are incomprehensible in themselves ; but in their proper continuity they fall naturally into place. There are times when I am almost ashamed of asking them to do things which they do only out of confidence in me. Such con fidence destroys my own and makes me feel I am not worthy of theirs.
Thursday morning, J o'clock. I woke up with a start in the night. It was raining. I suddenly realized a mistake I had made, which I must Page 17
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correct without anybody noticing it. If they did they would lose confidence in me. I am not a real director and probably never shall be. I get too interested in what is happening. I begin to watch it as though it were a play. I become a part of the audience and then I forget all about the continuity. I have forgotten the continuity of move ment where Marcel Andre mounts his horse. So that we can still use that shot, I shall have to cut a bit of Nane Gernon at the window. She will have to say her lines again and then leave the window, so that Marcel in the next cut can make his movement. This means I shall finish up behind the horse when he mounts it and says 'And you, Beauty, what shall I bring you?' If Clement were here I shouldn't make that kind of mistake. He must be having terrible weather in Brittany. He should be here by now. On top of this, Marcel Andr6 has to leave in five days, and the weather's so uncertain it pre vents me from getting on with his scenes. It's still raining this morning but there is a chance that the sun may come out later. In Touraine the weather can change completely with extraordinary rapidity.
y.JO in the evening. First day that I have actually done what I wanted to do. Splendid sunshine and clouds. We took advantage of the clouds after lunch to work behind the house, and pro duced the effect of evening by using lamps. But this morning we nearly lost the little time that we'd gained on our schedule owing to the flying school 28
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM students looping the loop above us. Darbon went to the officers. They are to pay us a visit at ten o'clock. One of them is Mangin's son. They've promised to make the pilots fly further off. I've nearly finished the linen scene. With a bit of luck I should be through with it tomorrow, between nine and one o'clock. (Ludovic and his watering cans, Mila's shadow; Beauty's arrival in her Princess's dress in the lanes of sheets, discovered by Jean Marais who lifts up the first sheet as though it were a stage curtain a Vltalienne, to reveal the background behind the bench.) In order to make sure of Mila and Nane's laughter in the close-up (on Josette's line, 'bring me a rose . . .') I asked Aldo to dress himself up as a hag. He made up his face under a veil, and wore long blond curls made of woodshavings. He was grotesque and looked like an old witch. I pushed him out in front of them after the clapperboy. But they told me they laughed only because they didn't find him funny. After the linen tomorrow I shall go on to the orchard, and do the scene of Beauty appearing with her father, to link up with the settings of the sheet and the house. Lebreton is recording sounds of chickens and running water for me, so that the background noises have the correct atmosphere. The horse, Aramis, arrived with his master from Paris at four o'clock. He looks like Rommel's horse which Montgomery rides. He's a white Arab and kneels down, and rears like a wave crowned with foam. I'll keep his circus harness for it is absolutely right for the style of a children's book. I've asked his owner to send his false tail. Have seen the sedan chairs (too heavy and too clean). Have seen the crossbows (which don't work). But I don't c 29
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM get worked-up. When I do so, it's done deliberately in order to galvanize people and get the best out of them .
Friday evening, 8 o'clock. Accident to Mila. She was trying to ride Aramis. He reared, or she made him rear. I was taking a shot of Josette. Mila had been sunbathing in a bathing costume, having washed her hair, and was just taking Aramis for a walk through the lucerne. Once in front of the house, where none of us could see her, she must have tried to make this circus pony rear, by reigning up. The horse fell back on top of her. It's a miracle she isn't dead. They've taken her over to Tours. She's very brave and makes light of it. But I don't suppose she'll be able to work for some time, nor does she yet realize the extent of her injuries as she's still suffering from shock, A re action will probably set in. Her right leg has only super ficial injuries. It was beautifully fresh this morning. Sun shining, but the planes still there. Alekan is perched up, as though on a tight rope and can only just keep his balance. As soon as he's ready to shoot, it clouds over, a plane goes over, a dog barks, the guinea fowls drown the actresses' voices, or the sound goes wrong. After an anti-diet lunch with the owners, I return to the linen scene. Josette's sky blue dress is ravishing in this very simple white setting. And to explain this background away I make her say: 'Who's done my washing?' Avenant replies, 'We have', 3
then she adds, 'The sheets are badly hung and are trailing Page 20
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM on the ground.' I get utterly exhausted. We are all going to dine at a country pub on the banks of the Cher. But it's difficult finding a road where debris doesn't block the car. Another anti-diet meal. I try with Alekan to solve the headsplitting problem of how to do the shots without using Mila, and which will let us finish with Marcel Andre. I would have liked to have taken the archer scene to morrow morning which opens the film, but the only things we can find at Tours are some very heavy bows which are quite unworkable. Marais has got a boil coming on his thigh .
Saturday evening, 8 o'clock. Mila's better. Nane stayed with her. She's had massage and been allowed to take a bath. Although she still walks bow-legged, that doesn't seem to stop her laughing at herself and at everything else. A good day. Emile Darbon complains that I don't get on with the schedule quick enough but keep stopping to take extra shots, which the company haven't allowed for. But it's these extras, the inspiration of the moment, which enliven and enrich a film. I am delighted with those I've taken and am sure they will help. I took one today of an open cart-shed full of ladders, ploughshares, forks, baskets, ropes and bundles of faggots. Beauty, Ludovic and Avenant sit here when they ask about the Beast: 'Does it walk on four legs?' etc. I decided to do this shot because it was overcast, and I
could almost use studio lighting on it. But it took such a long time to dress Josette and do her hair that, by the time she was ready, the sun was out and I found myself Page 21
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM having to use awnings to hide it. Josette's grace and sensi tive acting astonish me. My short lines suit her. I never have to take anything twice. As Beauty she has naivety, simplicity and just that suggestion of superiority, as though she has seen things which her family have not even dreamt about. She dominates Ludovic, cherishes her father, but is not ashamed of them when she returns home. She has to say her line: 'Who has done my wash ing?' dressed in pearls, tulle, silk and gold, yet even so, she does not lose her simple manner. After lunch I hung the sheets over the poles at the bottom of the garden. Beauty, her father, Ludovic and Avenant sit with their backs to us and are seen through a parted sheet, which is lifted at the beginning of the sequence; thus revealing the house too . Beauty kisses her father and then moves into the scene with Avenant and Ludovic which I shot this morning. As Avenant goes off towards the left, he lets the sheet fall again. In this way the scene ends, as it began, with a linen curtain. From there we go to the orchard. I shall take the shot of Beauty from an avenue of trees down there, as she appears on the distant terrace with her father, which causes the stupified Felicie, espying her over a sheet, to cry: 'Look, a lady from the Court, with my father on his feet again.' The second shot is of Beauty and her father coming to wards us through the mottled shadows of the leaves, as Avenant exclaims: 'But it's Beauty!' Whilst we were shooting this, I was lucky enough to have a cock crow right in the middle of their walk. The sun is lifting, it will soon be behind the house. We run to meet it and, 3*
on the wing, just manage to catch the shot of Marcel Andre bending down from his horse to Beauty: *And you, Beauty, what shall I bring you?' It is this shot which leads to her reply which I took as a close-up : 'Bring me a rose, father, for none grow here.' This is followed by her sister's mocking laughter, shot yesterday. Page 22
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM We finished up with the shot of Beauty taken from behind (the horse goes off between her and the porch), because it's six o'clock, and from then on the unions make the company pay overtime. I shan't shoot tomorrow, Sunday. Mila's still too ill, which leaves me only makeshifts. If she's well enough by Monday I will tackle the scenes of the necklaces, and the sedan chairs. The crossbows are hopeless. I shall have to use long bows or slings, FStes, celebrating the liberation of Tours, going on all this evening and tomorrow. (Josette refuses to ride Aramis, so some girl, a neighbour of the owner of Rochecorbon, is to double for her.) A bit of luck: Clement and his wife arrived this evening. Shall now have somebody to help me with things: clouds, continuity and aeroplanes. And what's more, the assistance and advice of the man who has just completed La Bataille du Rail, single-handed. It's a wonderful film acted entirely by railway workers and engines. He has only the derailment left to shoot with eleven tracking cameras. I told him that the style of my film requires ordinary run of the mill stuff: anything that comes to hand watering cans, benches etc. And quite apart from the cost, that's the way to avoid the picturesque. The costumes are sufficient. 33
Sunday. Rest. Luckily it was a fairly cloudy day, Mila's getting better. The hotel proprietor tells me that Jeannot last Page 23
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM night (fSte for the liberation of Tours) jumped fully dressed into the fountain outside the Town Hall. It must have been five o'clock this morning when they came in: they're all still asleep. I know nothing quite so well-defined as the relation ship between Josette and the two sisters in the film, and it's exactly the same off the set. I don't mean they go on nagging Josette ; Mila and Nane are kindness itself. What I mean is that these two form one distinct group and Josette another, whereas Michel, who has both reserve and exuberance, goes between the two. Jeannot makes another group all to himself. He gets on with the others but is at the same time aloof. He is, as it were, a friend but not of the family. With such temperamental differences between the artists, it follows that it's almost unnecessary for me to rehearse them. They get the feeling of the scenes right away. Michel, whom I chose after his d6but in V Eternal Retour (part of Lionel) is still paralysed by the camera. If I restrain him, he stiffens up entirely. Therefore, I let him do 'a little too much' and thus run the risk of getting grimaces instead of that joyous mobility of his mouth. I dare say he'll loosen up in a few days and then I'll shoot the important scene. Christian B6rard's part is immensely important in the film. And it's strange having to invent some sort of formula so that we can have him in the unit without coming up against union regulations. His costumes with 34
their elegance, power and sumptuous simplicity play just as big a part as the dialogue. They are not merely decorations; they reinforce the slightest gesture, and Page 24
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM the artists find them comfortable. What a pity it is that France cannot afford the luxury of colour films. The arrival of Beauty at the wash-house, wearing her grand sky-blue dress, surrounded by black chickens, was an absolute miracle. The Paquin people had to use what materials they could find, without worrying about colour. In spite of that, this fortuitous contrast of colours is dazzling and probably more exciting than if it had been deliberately chosen. As soon as Nane, Jeannot, Michel and Josette are dressed, made up, be-wigged, they wander about the garden and farm. It's then that the stone-work, windows and doors come to life. It is we, in our modern clothes, who look like intruders, ridiculous ghosts. When the light gets bad and the clouds start moving so mysteriously that the assistant cameraman, watching through his orange glass, can no longer see what's going to happen, I lie down on the grass, close my eyes and let my poem (The Crucifixion) work on me. It carries me so far away that I lose all contact with my surroundings and, when the look-out man shouts that the sun's coming out again, I must look just as though I am waking from a dream.
Sunday 11.30. Undoing my dressing I noticed I have a small boil coming. R. warned me that by going away I had prevented him from completely immunizing me. All I ask is that 35
it doesn't go bad before I finish shooting these exteriors. I was forgetting something good that's happened. Ara, the make-up man, now comes on to the set. A remark I Page 25
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM made seems to have changed his attitude. Marais came to my room to see me. His boil is enormous, and very badly placed on the inside of his thigh. I, myself, know only too well what he must be going through. I wonder what would be the best thing to do. R. has convinced me that ordinary doctors don't know how to treat this illness, and I'm not happy being at Tours so far from his advice.
Sunday, midnight. Dined with my brother and sister-in-law at Champgault. Came home under a stormy sky, in the distance a black storm threatened with silent lightning. Majestic Cinema. Most exciting moment: our first projection. I've just got back from it. I must say it's very beautiful. Clarity, a richness of detail, contour, contrasts, with something imponderable like a light, rotating wind. That's most encouraging and tomorrow, with the sun's permission, we'll tackle the necklace scene. I was on the spot with C16ment and Alekan at four o'clock. Together we worked out the angles for the shots. But I don't like making up my mind too far ahead. Films gain by improvisation. What's Alekan's work like? Like a piece of old silver which has been polished till it shines like new. One can find that exact sort of soft brilliance in certain pieces of silver which have been polished up with skins.
Monday morning, J o'clock, Jeannot came to my room to do his dressing. The boil is well and truly a carbuncle and it's getting even bigger. He's going to see the doctor this evening. And will have to be injected. The worst of it is he insists on riding the horse. As it is he can hardly walk. Page 26
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Escoffier and Darbon have gone to Paris. They are coming back the day after tomorrow, bringing the four lackeys and the noblemen with them.
Monday evening, 1 1 o'clock. A day when the threads of fate entangled and tied themselves into knots. But Mila and Jeannot are such heroes they'd film halfdead. Thick fog this morning. We set up the cameras behind the sheets at the bottom of the orchard. The mist lifted at eleven o'clock. We shot the scene of the heads showing above the linen. Mila can't get down from the bench. Jeannot carries her. I add a line: 'You leave me alone' as if he helps her only out of scorn. Camera, lamps are moved. I prepare the meeting scene with the neck lace. Tackle it after a thousand and one difficulties; Alekan has the inhumanity of all cameramen, mathema ticians and astronomers; he arranges and corrects his lights without realizing that Mila, all this time, can hardly stand on her feet. Lunch. Clouds over. Rains. Go to sleep after lunch. Open an eye. I guess the unit are playing 'portraits' here 37
in this little laundry where I'm lying. Now the sun's shining. I get up only to find the actors have all taken their make-up off and changed. Ask Clement. He tells me that the technicians won't work after four o' clock unless they get overtime according to their union rates. Darbon refuses these terms on principle. He's in Paris. Clement argues and ends up by promising to pay the overtime and to get all the equipment shifted ready into position. . . . We carry the camera and lights. We make up the Page 27
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM actors, we do their hair and we dress them. Then the sun goes in. So that Alekan has to change his angle again. Meanwhile, we can do nothing but stand around watching Mi la who is trying to make light of things. She is very, very ill but wants to get on so that she can leave tomorrow evening and come back Saturday ; for, at all costs, she wants to try and avoid having a law suit with the other company she's filming for. I suspect she's worse than she shows ; and even worse than she imagines. No doubt her journey will crack her up completely so that she won't be able to do her film in Paris, or get back here which will put finish to ours. All this proves too much for her; she breaks down under the strain, stammering, swaying, her face con torted. She's on the verge of a nervous breakdown. The second shot (which would have saved us) missed fire. The sky clouds over again ; only a few minutes left clear. The nerve storm breaks. Mila collapses on her knees amongst the lettuces. She's carried off. I go with Jeannot to Tours to see Dr Vial. We have to wait in a bar there where we're given white wine, bread and butter, and minced pork. He takes us to his clinic on the road to Rochecorbon. He gives Marais's leg a local anaesthetic then lances the carbuncle. Jeannot is very 38
tough and brave but seems to suffer terribly. I leave him at the clinic and will pick him up tomorrow morning. I'll avoid doing the scenes with the horse and will shoot something easy. The doctor is going to make him lie quiet for twenty- four hours, by which time the carbuncle should be ripe. You may just imagine what it's like trying to work under these difficulties ; for, besides having the sun as our Page 28
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM boss, we have to try and get through with those scenes so Marcel Andre can finish; yet, at the same time, we daren't overtax our invalids.
Tuesday evening j 11 o'clock. A good day, a run of luck. Mist lifted; sun, cloudless sky. Fairly quick shots, even the horse did exactly what it was supposed to do. The scenes are exactly as I visual ized them. Mila holds out. Jeannot, who slept at the clinic, manages to film; he'll have to rush back still in his Lenain costume as he's due to have his leg lanced. By six o'clock this evening I had taken eleven shots in all and finished with Marcel. Even the necklace scene is in the can. Madame T., Mila's agent, arrived at the hotel with an ambulance to take her to Paris, so that she could fulfil her engagements there. She's quite mad, for Mila is luckily insured in both films, and runs no risk of finan cial collapse. The Insurance Company's doctor comes to the hotel. It is Vial. He is worried. She'll have to be X-rayed tomorrow morning. If there is the smallest crack 39
in her pelvis she'll have to go into plaster and our film will collapse. Jeannot won't be able to ride for a whole week. I must take a deep breath and attempt the impossible. Whatever happens I shall manage to nurse them and somehow get on with the film at the same time. And add this tour de force to a thousand others. Get to bed utterly exhausted and so thin that a woman journalist declares: 'His face is made of his two profiles stuck together. ' Page 29
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Notes taken on the spot, Wednesday morning, September Sth, 1945, 11 o'clock. Til snatch this story from the depths, by shock tactics. And if fate's against rne I'll deal with fate. I'll cheat it with a card trick. I live in another world, a world where time and place are wholly mine. I now live without newspapers, letters, telegrams, without any contact with the outside world at all. The mist lifted this morning but the clouds crossed, then superimposed themselves one on top of the other, until the whole sky was covered in layers. For all that, we must somehow take the shot of the horse, ridden by the local girl who is doubling for Josette. I do it 'silent' so that I can shout my orders. C16ment is hidden in the barn pouring tetrachloride on Aramis's hooves and false tail. Stage-hands, hidden behind beams and faggots, hold an invisible string to open the yard door. We've only 40
got two metres to play about with and this dominates the scene. They goad Aramis; he appears. I give the orders for the doors to open. Aramis hesitates, then prances out like a dancer. We deliberately speed up the camera so as to slow down his movements on the screen. Just three blue rents in the sky give us enough time to trap this shot in the can. The car brings Marais back from the clinic where Mila is being X-rayed, Our next shot will be the one where he (Marais) fetches the horse from the courtyard and leads it into the barn by the bridle. Page 30
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM The weather's breaking up. A black cloud drifts to wards the sun which, like a disc, is pale as the moon. I'm writing outdoors on a little table opposite a shed stuffed full of a peasant's possessions in the manner of Le Nain. I was cold so they brought me the merchant's dressing-gown. Cameras, projectors now emigrate towards the farm yard. The girl doubling for Josette dismounts in the midst of her escorting family. They are an astonishing collection and remind one of Caran d'Arche horsemen. Marais limps. The stage-hands are busy making deals in brandy. Cl&ment, who's from Brittany, is beginning to understand the caprices of this sky which can cloud over and clear again all in the space of five minutes.
Midday. At the moment we are all sitting amongst the straw and hay. The tracks divide the barn by the big plank door.
We keep one eye on the sun. Marais's already rehearsed The difficulties he finds in turning Aramis makes a good shot framed by the door. Just before it opens I add the line for him: *I am going', so as to explain why he walks so resolutely. The real reason is he is in too much pain to loiter. As I write these lines Marais asks me if I want him to stay or whether he can go to the clinic. Clement reports two layers of cloud. I give the order to lunch. Nothing we can do but wait and see. Stop.
1 o'clock. We lunched. Everything upsets my diet. The owner Page 31
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM gave me oysters. I'll have the tracking rails put up in front of the house in the corner of the courtyard. I'll take Beauty's flight by moonlight. She'll wear her cape and walk the whole length of the house, till she reaches the iron ring decorated with the head of a horned mon ster. Then she'll look to the right and to the left. Alekan will close-up on Beauty and this iron beast on the ring which, in her father's home, as it were, gives a preview of her future. This seventeenth century ironwork im pressed me the very first day I discovered the house. It was the house. The car brings news of Mila. No bones broken. A month's rest. I've been told I can use her tomorrow. That gives me tomorrow and the next day. The little lackeys' are at Tours. If we get any sun I'll be able to finish with Mila and then she can rest. 42
Beauty's exit by moonlight a fatal shot. (Had to use a red filter.) Alekan just gets his lamps, screens and rails fixed then the sun has to move. Now shadows spoil everything. I tell him so. But how can you talk to a cameraman, even a charming one, who opposes you with all the indifference of the stars ? As a last straw, Alekan admits that he's got nothing but the shadow. It's now four o'clock. Marais hasn't come back from the clinic yet. I decide to try the close-up 'bring me a rose'. We set it. Marais arrives. He limps horribly. After an interminable delay I give the order to shoot. Josette does the second take marvellously. But 'sound' tells me that an aeroplane drowned the last phrase. Josette's nervous and distraught and can't re capture her natural simplicity. Now she's either too simple or not simple enough. I persist and only stop after the seventh take. But I'm worried. So I decide to take one more. I take two. (Nine takes in all.) The sound people always exaggerated. Probably it is the bad one that will Page 32
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM turn out to be the best. Marais, exhausted by his pain, is in a very bad temper. He goes back to the clinic. He's to be operated on to morrow morning which means we shan't have him for two days. I'll take the opportunity and use Mila in the sedan chair scene. I 'break down' the sedan chair with Alekan and Cl&ment and arrange the set so that Mila need move as little as possible. I often ask myself whether or not these exhausting days may not be the sweetest of my life. For they are friendly, full of fun and harmless little quarrels, and con tain moments when we seem to hold fleeting time in our hands. 43
Thursday the 6th, j p.m. Overcast. The Insurance Company must pay up for Mila and Jeannot. They're living at the clinic. Here at Rochecorbon everybody is freezing and trying to keep warm under a pile of costumes. Escoffier is dressing the little lackeys. I rehearse them in the farmyard. Decide to try two shots which can be lit artificially. I shoot Nane waking Blin's brother, who's asleep in a cart full of straw. We lunch by the heat of a thousand watt lamp and end up by believing it's the sun. Aldo goes quite mad and takes innumerable photos from the table, some of the lackeys, and some of the actresses who are sprawling in the straw. Darbon's back from the clinic. They've left Mila there, as the weather's so dull. Jeannot has had his operation. Alekan decides to shoot the short scene which takes place at the wash-house without waiting for the sun. So the car goes off to fetch Mila. We'll just throw a skirt and a man's shirt on her and Nane; and we'll tie some kind of a rag round their hair. I didn't think much of this Page 33
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM scene at first, but now it's become rather lovely, with the girls in white surrounded by the billowing sheets. With the frothing lather, Mila's laughter and Nane throwing a bundle of linen straight at the camera, all this excitement makes me think of the Armance wash-house and the little hunchback doctor. Unfortunately, there was nothing else I could do. The laundry's now a mle of lackeys, make-up men, and dressers. They are all singing Russian songs in unison. Mila tries on her grand party dress. I leave. Go to the clinic. Car drops me at the bottom of the hill ; Moulouk is off like an arrow. I find him waiting outside Jeannot's door. Mila and Michel come and join us. Gradually the whole company instals 44
itself in this model little clinic. I'm thinking of spending several days here to start the insulin treatment again. I cut this shot as the film was too long. If it's sunny tomorrow, I hope to shoot the sedan chair scene with the little lackeys. And with a bit of luck that will finish with Mila. Why does the notice 'Film in Progress' create such respect? All this theatrical clutter out in the open is fascinating. I never tire of it. It makes up for the endless waiting. Nothing could describe the pleasant atmosphere of our hotel (hotel de Bordeaux) in spite of its draw backs. It's like being at college again, or on a cruise. Living together, working together and discussing the work; that, to me, represents the height of luxury.
Friday the Jth, $ a.m. Saw a short projection last night. Jeannot chopping some wood. Michel filling the watering cans. The sisters Page 34
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM on the terrace with their father. But it's irritating to see so little. I'm impatient for a proper run-through, but I'm well aware of the drawbacks in this case where a reel represents only shots consisting of short sequences or a few lines. The rhythm is only produced by the cutting; that's why it's so difficult for the actors to understand what they are doing. It's my job to make them see how their little scene fits into the whole. That's what makes film-acting so difficult. If the actor hasn't absolute con fidence in the director he imagines that his lines are unimportant, and consequently tends to say them without D 45
conviction, with the result that the whole film is weak, Another difficulty lies in trying to find a style not in itseli realistic but convincing in relation to the costumes and the strangeness of the story. I must remember not to let them talk too loudly, but at the same time make them see the importance of the words. Wonderful stars tonight but that doesn't mean any thing, for we often have fine nights only to find cloud in the morning.
Friday midnight. Brilliant day. Sunshine. We must take Mila's shots. She may not be strong enough tomorrow. We're in the farmyard, chairs all ready. Hens inside, flapping in all directions. Mila with dark blue dress and felt hat is arrogantly smart. Shoot the scene when the sisters arrive to find the lackey asleep in the chair. Follow it with Mila getting into her chair and settling herself as if she's on the lavatory, then the shot of her shouting through the^ door. Have lunch with the L's, whilst they prepare for the Page 35
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM scene. Bothered by cloud. After lunch I get back and just manage to snatch the shot of Ludovic shutting his sisters into the chairs and their moving off. Another shot of the chairs being carried. The lackeys kicking the cellar door. The chairs are very heavy. Paul, dressed as a lackey, drops the handles twice running, but if this takes all right I'll fix that by cutting to a close-up of Nane crying: 'They've been drinking!' 46
Tracking camera follows Mila in close-up. I wanted one of Nane but she's ill. So is the sun, it succumbs, it collapses. So do we. Went to the clinic. Jeannot is better. Go back to the hotel. Sleep like a log. Wake up at ten o'clock. Find the others already downstairs. Eat. Projection at the Majestic at eleven o'clock. Here's our reward the run-through is wonderful. Sparkling, soft and clear. Alekan's got just what I wanted. I'm delighted. It is just as I imagined. First con juring trick, the necklace. Camera angle. The false necklace falls out of sight, the real one into sight, and thus it looks as though it's changed in its fall.
Saturday the 8th, midnight. Have just got back from the Majestic where I showed Lebreton yesterday's run-through. Spent the day waiting for the sun. The morning mist turned into innumerable little clouds, all joined to gether like a veil. Clement and I prepared some shots which need the sun, and some others we had up our sleeve which don't. At last at midday, the sun came out. Then a mad race begins of actors, make-up men, tech nicians, and a chase after fowls and goats. We shoot the Page 36
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM departure of the sedan chairs, using Mila's double. And take the shot of Nane opening the door of her chair to find it full of chickens which refuse to stay where they should. So the stage hands had to get to work on putting the fowls asleep, by catching them, stuffing their heads 47
under their wings and whirling them around at arm's length. This does it. Then we put them back in the chair, I give the order to shoot, Nane comes forward, says her line, opens the door, and cries with annoyance. The chickens fly out, one through the door, the others through the windows. Then Mane settles herself inside and sits down on a hen, saying 'These chairs are filthy' at which moment two ducks come, out in single file from beneath her skirts. Am terrified that we shall burst out laughing, but somehow or other we manage to control ourselves and take the shot. Lunch. Take scene of the lackeys waking up. After that, do the close-ups of Nane which will be used as cuts in the scene with the sedan chairs* (That is, where the chair wobbles and is dropped by one of the lackeys, and she cries out: 'They've been drinking!' after which the chair is righted and the procession starts off again. Having this shot I may be able to use the one I spoilt, or thought at first would be a little fantastic,*) M. comes all the way from Paris to get a wet sheet thrown in his face. That's just like film-work, CI6ment throws it at him from behind the camera. It is, of course, supposed to be the same sheet that Nane throws, in the wash-house scene. But that's the only way I can show the sheet flying towards the audience, and arriving full in the draper's face. Then we set up the shot of Nane at the window. Whereupon the sun disappears and we pack up. Clinic. Jeannot will probably be able to work again on Page 37
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Tuesday. Mila is more comfortable. Aldo takes the op portunity to have an operation on a cyst on his face. He returns masked with gauze and sticking-plaster. * Which I did. 48
The doctor tells me that if Marais has a special dressing he can do the horse scene tomorrow. I shall take the opportunity to re-take the shot where he first sees Magnificent. As it is, the shot's too short and looks too far away, missing the expression on his face. First big write-up in the Monde Illustre. Photograph of me setting up a scene, on the cover. Looks like a sad old man looking into the distance. Is this me? I suppose I must get used to it. I get so lost in my work that I forget that I exist, and change. So that 1 suddenly wake up and find myself face to face with a person I don't know, but my friends do. We're to lunch with my brother on Sunday. I suppose the reason why Christian B6rard goes about dressed in rags and I wear a dirty old hat far too small for me and never shave, is that we become so absorbed in what we're doing, that we think we are invisible, and that others can no more see us than we can see ourselves. Unfortunately, photographs face us with the reality, but they don't seem to cure us of thinking that we still look as we think we are. But the uglier the years make us the more beautiful our works should become: reflecting us, brain-children show a strong family likeness.
Sunday the gth, 11 a.m. It's just as well it's cloudy for that's some consolation Page 38
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM for a 'free' day imprisonment for me. I can never do too much. Work never exhausts me. It's afterwards 49
that I Fall into the black pit. Thinking of what I've done so f ar it's not so bad. And no doubt the cutting can cover up what mistakes I've made in continuity (which worry Lucienne, my script girl, to death)., Too much care, no doors left open to chance, and poetry, which is difficult enough to trap, will certainly be frightened away. Whereas a little improvisation makes it come a bit nearer. To find trees where there are none, or something where it shouldn't be, such as a hat off a head in one shot but on again in the next, are, as it were, cracks in the wall through which poetry can penetrate. Those who notice such spelling mistakes are the real illiterates and can not be moved by fantasy anyhow. Such details have no importance, Yesterday in the sedan-chair scene I used a long tracking shot. Finally, I deleted it. This film must prove that it's possible to avoid camera movement and keep to a fixed frame. All behind schedule today. We've taken about forty shots. The owners of Rochecorbon get 80,000 francs for a fortnight. After which time they get ,ooo francs a day. But that's nothing to worry about, because the insurance on our invalids will cover the difference. But a wet day costs us 100,000 francs.
Sunday evening, Lunched at my brother's with Josette, Nane, Michel and the doctor. Bathed in the river. Raspberries!
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Monday the 10th, midnight, This morning we took the opening shot of the film: with the target, bow and arrows. Recorded the sound of arrows. As always the real sound doesn't come off. Therefore we must translate it, that is, invent a sound more exact than the actual sound itself. Clement finds a switch that will do the trick. The sun won't oblige. So I announce that I may just as well go to the clinic for as soon as my back is turned the sun is sure to come out. Which it did. And I found the shot had been taken when I got back again. Prepare the scene for tomorrow, of Jeannot and Josette. We shall do Nane at the window and the beginning of Josette's flight by moonlight. For this I made her make up her lips very dark, because we are using the red filter. The dog that belongs to the manor refuses to film. He takes up his place all right but leaves it as soon as the scene begins, then lies down properly as soon as it's finished. Sumptuous lunch at the manor. Couldn't sleep but dozed off in the laundry. Clement woke me up ; I had been dreaming and jumped with both feet into a reality that is more real than my dream. In other words, Josette going up to the door of the barn. Aeroplanes going mad, even Super Fortresses flying over us. I can do nothing but take the scene silent and add the sound afterwards. Through with Nane, so she's leaving tomorrow. I shall use a double for her, showing her back, in the interior shot. We can give the unit a holiday for we can't get on without Jeannot, It's five o'clock. Went back to the clinic where Mila gave us tea. Michel, clad in a white overall, has been watching Dr Vial's operations ever since eight o'clock this morning. He des cribes what he's seen. I feel uneasy giddiness in my legs
and stomach. I disappear. Lie down at the hotel over come with extraordinary tiredness. Exhausted by Touraine and the break in the rhythm of our work. The whole unit wakes me at 8 o'clock and takes me off to eat at abistrot. Page 40
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Tuesday the 1 1th, J a.m. Wonder if I can change the scene of the sisters in the room (they're dressing) with the tavern scene, and do the latter after the scene with the sisters. If I could cut from Mila's head, just after the close-up to the shot of Josette's head, then return to Mila, wearing her high-heaped wig just when she is finishing tying the ribbons. And another advantage will be that I shan't have shots of Avenant and Ludovic following one another. C16ment is amazed by the way our unit works to gether. Apparently, the people he worked with before were a very tough and unpleasant lot. He's leaving us for three days as he has to shoot the derailment of his armoured train in Brittany. Weather permitting, it's all fixed up for Thursday. We'd all go there too but I shall be too busy at Epinay, and seeing to Jeannot's make-up as the Beast, which I find less terrifying than I did at the first test. I can't praise the technicians and electricians enough for the way they help us. It's marvellous watching them work so quickly without a suggestion of bad temper. They really contribute to the film. They actually like it, too ; and are always thinking of a thousand and one ways to please me.
There's no awkwardness between them and the actors. They each look after their own affairs and in that way make up a unit. Have been thinking of what we've done so far here in Touraine. I must avoid a certain kind of coldness that may result from the way I work. It would be fatal. One could treat the film in an entirely different way, and show the girls, who are washing, pushing each other about and so Page 41
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM on ; but instinctively I am after a more simple approach with gags of a more subtle order Jeannot lifting the sheet back, the heads appearing, and the necklace falling .... The other method wouldn't suit the short lines that I have given the characters. Just as they require simplicity in their costumes so do they need movements stripped of unnecessary gesticulation and clutter. It is worth noticing that, apart from Beauty when she's dressed as the Princess, none of the women wear jewel lery. In the rest of the film (to be done at the studio) I will direct them in every movement and gesture. For I sus pect that the rhythm of the film depends on me, more than in the mobility of the camera, or in the actors' move ments. On the other hand I may find I can't do very much to impress my instinctive feelings of rhythm on a mechani cal art which only comes to realization in the cuttingroom. The main thing is to keep to my own sequence of facts, and really interest the spectator instead of en tertaining him. Tried to make Aramis rear with two people on his back. He refused. I'm not happy about the way he walks as a dancer. Like some actresses he can only be photo graphed from certain angles. I must avoid his legs (except when he's galloping). Must focus the profile of his head, 3
which, with its enormous eye and the protruding veins in his neck makes him look like one of Marly's horses. I write this, this morning, whilst waiting for the car. We're not starting till nine o'clock. The new time's a nuisance. At ten o'clock it's only eight by the sun. At six o'clock in the evening it is only four o'clock and thus the unit misses two excellent hours. The doctor has let Jeannot film the quiet scenes today Page 42
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM and tomorrow with a special dressing; we'll do him leaving the farm on Aramis. If it's overcast this morning I shall try to squeeze in the shot with the crossbows ; and do the retake of Avenant when he sees the horse trot into the courtyard. I said to Gide last month as we were coming out of the rue d' A th&nes where they were showing Le Sang d'un Poete that I couldn't bear to see the film again be cause it seemed so slow. He replied that I was wrong and that what I thought was slowness was a gentle rhythm, a tempo, a rhythm all my own. No doubt he's right; and it would be foolish to upset a rhythm that comes from within oneself, and try to impose an artificial one on it which would not suit it. (Sleep a little.)
Wednesday the 12th, 8 a.m. Was too tired to write last night. Did the archery, Jeannot and Josette scene, Jeannot and Michel leaving on Aramis which comes before the farce a Tkalienne scene. Eventually I managed to take what I wanted after waiting 54-
for hours with nerves stretched to breaking point, with innumerable planes passing over us. The sky cleared about eleven this morning (nine o'clock by the sun). The archery set is exactly as I visual ized it when I wrote the film in the Palais-Royal. The film will start with a sequence of close-ups: first of all, the target hit by an arrow, then a shot of the backs of Avenant and Ludovic, followed by the next arrow landing in the room frightening the dog. I've added a very big Page 43
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM close-up of Jeannot's hands drawing the bow just as Michel knocks into him. I faked the sound of the arrow leaving the bow by swishing a stick near the microphone. Window shot: dressed up one of the dressers to double for Nane who, with her usual sweetness, came and offered to get dressed and do the shot herself. After doing a shot of Jeannot and Michel entering the house, the unit went to lunch. The previous evening we had decided that, in case of bad light, we'd do the Josette-Jeannot scene behind the house, and had rigged up a sort of hut and got the gear out on the road so that we could have the cameras on the top of the wall. But the whole scheme proved too complicated and we were at it till six o'clock. And just when Jeannot had got into the scene and was playing with great intensity, some technical fault, or an aero plane would come along and interrupt him right in the middle. But finally we did manage to get two very good takes : and I always make them develop the bad ones just in case they are any use. One can never tell when the camera won't perform some miracle of its own. We shot the scene that precedes the bit of farce, about eight o'clock. It came off very well; rather like Goldini or Moliere. Alekan lit it without the sun, as though it were 55
just setting, throwing long shadows across the scene. Dr Vial came to watch us work. Cloudless sky this morning. I shouldn't be surprised if, now we're leaving tomorrow, they don't get a whole week of lovely weather, just to spite us.
Wednesday, J o'clock. Have just looked at the watch that Marais brought me Page 44
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM from Switzerland. It's a hundred lire piece. You press your nail on the edge opposite the V of d'ltalie and the coin opens, and out comes the flattest watch in the world. It's seven o'clock, and now nothing of our gypsy camp remains at Rochecorbon, I was sorry to leave. I had got used to the place and had become part of it. A golden wine simply flowed from the old place as we were leaving. The technicians drank an incredible number of bottles. Aldo kept trying to get me into a corner. He'd got hold of a very rare old bottle and wanted to share it with me. Our last work here was done under a radiant sky without a single cloud. Looking back, bless the clouds we've had, for they are the peculiar glory of the Touraine sky. And even when the sun breaks through, they give the light the elegance of pearl. Without them everything would seem too raw, too crude and too easy. Every shot has been a struggle but I dare to say that I have done what I set out to do ; and not a single shot has left me miserably staring at what is instead of what it should have been. But if there are faults in the work they are mine alone, and I can't blame anybody else.
First shot of the day was at eleven o'clock: Jeannot and Michel leaving the barn on Aramis. He reared today, which he refused to do yesterday. The camera just got it. The third time the horse came out of the barn it suddenly started to back in again, kicking Michel off, and reappeared without him. Last shot. Midday. Avenant, with Ludovic up behind him, is supposed to gallop to wards us and then go off to the left after brushing against the camera. That's when the fun began. Aramis kicked or bolted. Michel clung madly to Jeannot who, without saddle or stirrup, looked like breaking his own neck, or killing us with laughter. He tried again and again but his falls became so serious (Jeannot's wound is still open) that I told them to stop. We'll have to use doubles. One o'clock. Rehearse the scene where Avenant and Page 45
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Ludovic join the sisters in the barn before the horse comes in. Third scene. A close-up of Avenant sticking his head out of the barn when he sees Magnificent arrive. Lunch. After lunch we shot the scene we'd rehearsed at one o'clock. Shot the gallop at three o'clock. The stable boy on the horse wearing Avenant's clothes. Lucile (the script-girl) doubles for Ludovic. Aramis, without Michel's weight up, is better; but still doesn't like two riders. He's up to his tricks. At last we manage to get him to gallop and by the speed he's going, it's certain that no one is going to notice who's on his back. But Marais is not happy about it. He was the same in Carmen, he wouldn't let a double go on, and insisted on playing the most dangerous scene. As in the war, so in filmwork, his courage is the outcome of the astonishing conviction that he cannot come to any harm. But I am working from a different theory. In films a trick shot SJ
is often much more convincing than the real thing, and besides, it gives reality some relief. The actuality is often tame by comparison with a stunt scene. And for these an acrobat is far better than an actor.
4 o'clock. Only recordings the switch imitating the arrow; Beauty calling the Beast. (Josette stumbling over a ploughed field. It looks as though she were running around a M. Loyal, who is, in fact, none other than Bouboule armed with a prop. Some local women are peeping over a distant hedge, following this strange sight through their opera glasses.) That's the lot here. We celebrate. Aldo takes a photograph of the unit. Page 46
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM We pack. I get into the car without looking back, and leave. And drive up that lovely hill which I came down with Maurette and Moulaert the day I first discovered the manor. I remember the panic I felt at the thought that I might not get permission to film there. I even rushed about to find another place like it ... But there it is, it was all right and now the job's done. The way time solves things is an enigma. As I said to Michel only yesterday; *God wastes cen turies in an incredible fashion.' As we do minutes. What I've got to do now at Joinville is to turn that past into the present. But it will never be the Lecours' house again, it will always belong to the fairy story.
Thursday the 13th. Drove off at nine o'clock. Went to the Saint- Gregoire clinic to pick up Marais. Said goodbye to Mila who has to spend another week there. A ridiculously small bill, thanks to Dr Vial's generosity. Being superstitious, I insisted on stopping at the pub where we drank some Vouvray when we first came to Tours. Drink to the success of the film and then continue on to Brabizon so that I could show Emile the avenue of fairy-like trees which Poligny brought me to see for Baron FantBme. Drive with Josette, Jeannot, Darbon and Moulouk. Windows wide open. A soft blue air whips our faces. I have a feeling that Darbon likes working on the film and enjoys the company. I get an idea for the credits. I'll use clapper boards (that is the black board we use to show the number of the take). I'll make a stage-hand clap the names of the stars and then just show them for a second, as if they were going on to the set. Lunch at Page 47
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Charmettes. Got very little to eat for 4,000 francs (sic.) Go on to try and find the avenue with the dead trees. But can't. So give it up. Get back to Paris. Palais-Royal. Mountains of letters. Sleep. Shall go to Epinay tomorrow where Moulaert should have got the undergrowth cleared and installed my set.
Friday the 14th, 8.30 p.m. Been to Epinay where three productions have to be done together, which will mean we shall have to be care59
ful with our current. What with trains and aeroplanes I shall have to shoot the scene of the sick Beast by the lake at night. This lake is, in reality a stinking filthy river draining the sewers. But, like a dog, once I've found a place, I get attached to it, and this mundane setting will suit the anti-pompous style which I am trying to recapture. I had it in Le Sang d'un Poete. The forest gate was placed badly. Tried, with Darbon, Alekan and Moulaert, to find the right place, getting drenched amongst the nettles . After endless indecision eventually did choose a place (so difficult to get the background to match the fore ground). Alekan marks out where his platform will have to be fixed. It's a pity of course to make Josette and Jeannot act in this bog. But I'm convinced that Berard was right when he said that the scene would be much more moving beside this dirty water and amongst these weeds, than it would be in a luxurious setting. Back to Paulve's house. Claude Iberia, who is cured, was waiting for us there. Projection. The hall in Paulve's Page 48
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM house ruins the sound and the light was bad. But in spite of these yellow and nasal rushes I can tell that the scene with the sedan chairs has come off. (Some shots are still missing. As always, they're the best.) Aldo brought me some excellent stills this morning. He's going to bring some at eight o'clock to the PalaisRoyal. I'll sort them all out this evening.
Saturday evening, 11 o'clock. Went with Alekan and Aldo to have a look round Raray. Got to Senlis at nine o'clock. Every time I see 60
the place it's a new discovery. Aide's absolutely bowled over. I made him take as many photographs as he could, so that he can work on the sets. What a pity it is that we can't shoot on the spot. We must try to persuade the firm to let us do that. Lunch at Senlis. Go to Epinay. Not enough stage-hands, cable or lights. A dreary barn of a place that stinks. The stage-hands are putting up the door. Darbon arrives. Tell him that it would be crazy to fix the platform and all the gear of a studio round such worthless decor. Far better build the set in the studio. In the end we agree to shoot the door at Epinay, but will go to Raray for two days where Alekan has agreed to shoot in any weather, with a miserable supply of electri city. Darbon consents, and will postpone our starting again till next week. At Paulve's, showed Claude what I brought back from Rochecorbon. The labs are getting the rushes all muddled up. Some shots are missing, others aren't synchronized. She's going to check the negative on Monday, when we can have a proper pro jection so that I can then choose the takes. fDuring the break I have come to realize that the rhythm of the film is one of recitation. It is as though I am Page 49
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM telling the story and were hidden behind the screen, saying: 'Once upon a time, such and such a thing happened.' The characters don't seem to be living a life of their own, but a life that is being described. Perhaps that's how it should be in a fairy story f]
Sunday the l6th, J p.m. Conference at Paulve's house with Alekan, Moulaert and myself. Run through the shots we took at Raray 61
again. Decide the heights of the sets, and Josette's dresses. If the light isn't too good, I'll shoot in a sort of twilight which will merely mean changing the time Josette is supposed to take her meal. If it's sunny I'll shoot it as moonlight. Alekan suggests that he uses the red powder which, with a sort of mobile magnesium flare, gives the effect of night. I'll take Marcel Andr6 along to do the bit where he shouts; "Hulloa, is anybody there?' which is answered by the echo.
Tuesday the 1 8th, Awful night. These days doing nothing leave me in a sort of vacuum. Nothing but boring meetings, doctors and the barber. Sleep badly. And the film unwinds in my head. I cut it, alter the lines, add some, suppress others. And do all that without the material, because my cutter is trying to put it in order, and has got some of the shots which I haven't even seen. The cast keep phoning me. They're at a loose end too. Clement has shot his derailment in Brittany. He'll be back Wednesday. I think I'll cut the scene of the sedan Page 50
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM chairs arriving at the Duchess's house. The sisters' return will be enough. It would have slowed up the action too much. I phone and tell Emile this. It will be good news for the firm, one exterior less certainly is something.
Tuesday evening, 1 1 o'clock. Spent the day at Paulve's, cutting with Claude and lucile. They're trying to get some order out of the in62
credible mix-up that was made of our work in the developing. At B's this evening Castillo spoke to me about Josette's neglige. Her costume's a bit of a problem. It mustn't be dated. It mustn't be Greek, or conspicuous as a dress. I need something very grand yet very simple; very normal, yet very free; that's what I want. It mustn't look like a dress, yet has to be one.
Wednesday the igth, 11 p.m. Not a good day. Berard, just back from London, lunched with us. Afterwards Emile Darbon, Claude Iberia, Clement come and pick me up in the car and we drive out to Joinville. At Saint-Maurice, chaos begins. Projection over, go on the stage where the workmen are building the Beast's stables. Berard is infuriated by the clumsy way his sketches have been realized. He talks and talks, draws, corrects, and soon everything is turned upside down and trans formed by his fantastic talent. Page 51
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Run through the incomplete sequence of the sheets for him in a little projection room which happened to be free. (Hopeless projection, everything vibrating and yellow.) He thought my camera angles were a bit con ventional. Perhaps that's because he doesn't realize that this sequence doesn't open the film but follows the bizarre sequence at the Beast's Castle. I needed the quiet sheet scene as relief. Whilst waiting for the promised reel we talked to Renee Saint-Cyr and Claude Dauphin, both ready to go on in Cyrano. 63
Marais has only seen two mediocre shots, and he's got to go off now and see the doctor. The projection room wasn't free till 6.30 and he's already gone. Marais's scene excellent. Get home at eight o'clock and dine alone. Shall see all the rushes on Friday with Iberia, when we'll be able to choose the best. She'll then start cutting. We go to Senlis on Sunday. The work men leave Paris with all the gear tomorrow.
Thursday the 2Oth } 8 a.m. I suppose it's because I'm trying to keep the camera fixed and the shots simple, that makes Berard say my angles are flat. They're certainly not spectacular, but I dare say when it's cut, overlapped and interspersed with odd studio shots, these Touraine exteriors will be all right. But it certainly would be better if Alekan had an assistant so that he himself were free to choose the angles, and not have to do all the lighting and actual shooting himself. It is all this which tends to tie him down. Only a thread distinguishes Ver Meer from his contemporaries.
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Thursday evening , 11 o'clock* The doctor's diagnosis of Jeannot isn't too good. It's very worrying, seeing him look so tired, playing the
Beast with all that heavy make-up of hair and glue. But he never complains. I remember his going on in Les Parents Terribles with acute otitis. Blood spurted from his nostrils. The audience in the front row threw hand kerchiefs up to him. Worrying about the invalids, I've lost all pleasure in the work. Mila will be leaving the Clinic at Tours this week. Nane has to have another operation on her stomach as soon as the film is finished. As for me . . . Packed up this afternoon ready to go to Senlis. Smoke machines, red powder, magnesium torches, and a thou sand mechanical bits and pieces, none of which I dare forget. Everybody who works on a film knows the awful and implacable responsibility which settles on a director and forces him to hide his own doubts and overcome his own weaknesses. The slightest sign of indecision on his part demoralizes his unit. I suppose that's why, in the long run, film directors, knowing that they must appear sure of themselves, Ibecome so overbearing. Can't get hold of a stag or a doe. At last hope to have all the work we did in Touraine by Saturday. And will then choose the shots with Iberia and Clement. Berard is going to supervise the decor at Joinville.
Friday the 21st, evening. Spent the day running between the Company's Office and Clement's flat. Deciding the angles of the Raray shots and settling the problem of how to fake the final scene. Page 53
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The bizarre angles at Raray force themselves on you, Raray and the Beast are one; it's the strangest park in France. For the stunt shots, we'll truck the camera backwards and forwards on a slope ; cut to a profile shot and do the whole thing 'with a background of trans parent clouds. Clement and Alekan are to go up in an English aeroplane the day after tomorrow and shoot the clouds and the receding earth. To get the shot of the earth falling away, they'll have to do a stiff dive in reverse.
Saturday the 22nd } J o'clock. Saw Paulve this morning. He's delighted with the work, and already wants me to do another film next year with the same unit. Shut myself up in the projection room choosing the takes with Iberia, Clement and Alekan. Still can't find the one of the horse rearing, and there's no trace of it on the labels. Iberia's assistant is going to Saint-Maurice on Monday morning to hunt through the material there. Awful if this fine shot were lost. Lunch near the office. Meet Berard afterwards who's just come back from Saint-Maurice. He doesn't seem pleased with the way his decor's being handled. It's a pity that Moulaert has to work on two films at once. Ours really requires his full time. A tooth is giving me great pain. See a run-through of the derailment in Brittany. Twelve takes, four of which are of a tragic in tensity. Immediately afterwards I run off to the dentist who tells me I've got an abcess coming. He opened up the tooth and told me how to treat it. Now I've a rash 66
on my fingers and my cheeks are inflamed. 'To make bad Page 54
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM blood. To make spleen.' That is exactly what's happened; (Tm paying now for five years of bad blood, frustration and spleen. Jeanne t has the same kind of rash on his hip. It's raining. Tomorrow we leave for Senlis.
Sunday evening the 23rd, 8 o'clock. Left Paris at .30 with Josette, Jeannot and Emile Darbon. Something fell out of the car as we were going along. It was the carburettor. Hunt for it. Eventually find it and start again. Darbon informs us that we shall have to live in an abandoned chateau. Rather than do that I stop at the Grand Cerf, and manage to find some rooms there which will have to do. Dump the suitcases, and go on to Raray under a threatening sky heavy with towns of slate, simmering with lakes of sulphur and pink forests. The walls of Raray look sublime under this sky. It's raining. The gear isn't fixed in the right place. I make a sketch which Darbon will send this evening to the workmen, who are living at Verberie. Lady Diana Duff Cooper phoned this morning wanting me to dine at Chantilly. I phone the Grand Cerf to say it is impossible for me to leave work. The hotel is full of the Cyrano cast, all complaining of the weather. My chauffeur tells me that Clement and Alekan weren't able to get the shot of the clouds this morning. Apparently the camera jammed, no doubt due to the vibration of the aeroplane. They'll have to try again. 67
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM After dinner. Interminable dinner. This hotel is alive with memories for we camped here when we did Baron FantBmel Every morning a car used to take us through the rain to Voillet-le-Duc, where, in a courtyard full of women extras wearing the most elaborate dresses, sitting about on the edge of wells, we waited for the sun* A freezing draught, enough to kill, swept through the arches. We're to be called at six o'clock tomorrow. Jeannot's make-up takes three hours (quite apart from his hands). This evening; the sky is overcast and the clouds tragic. A cold moon. It is autumn. I can see that the work isn't going to be too pleasant.
Monday the 24th, 6 o'clock. Terrible night. My face and right hand itch. Gums. Eyes. Rain. And the misery of these germs preventing me from getting on with my work.
Monday, 11 o'clock. Back from Senlis. Equinox. Annoying rain. We left at 7.30. Found Rogelys in an inn a few kilometres out side Raray. Discovered the others eight kilometres further on, huddled together in another thieves' kitchen 68
(looked as if it were out of a novel by Simenon). Took Clement, his wife and Alekan back to Senlis. Darbon goes off to look for Marais and Josette who stayed at the first inn. Eventually we lunch with the rest of the unit. Page 56
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM M. de Labedoyere says: ( Hunters know that it rains at the Equinox for forty-eight hours. But it's taken me ten years to realize it. And I always get excited.' Back at the hotel Grand Cerf. Shall seize the op portunity to settle the three big stunts which come at the end of the film. Alekan and Clement are both terri bly upset because of their failure yesterday. The clouds were splendid. The pilot perfect. The plane's vibration upset the camera ; it jammed, they could do nothing. But to make up for this, they found a place in the forest which is just right for the Merchant and Beauty to ride through on Magnificent. Darbon urges us to shoot the exteriors as soon as we get the chance. We will, on the first fine day we get. The weather seemed to be making for a change. Now it's raining twice as hard.
6 o'clock. Went on location hoping to do the takes of Marcel Andre who, since he's playing at the Theatre de la Michodiere, is only free on Monday evenings. First of all it was raining, then it stopped, then it poured again. In between two downpours the sky suddenly stabbed the terrace, which is edged with stone bloodhounds, with the most terrible lightning. But even so, one can't photo-
graph lightning unless one has electricity of one's own. And unfortunately, Darbon gave the electricians the day off this morning and they won't be here until seven o'clock tomorrow morning. Make the best of it by spending the day plotting angles. In this way, a day lost is often a day gained; for it means we shall now know exactly what we're after. Go home mad with toothache, beard sore, fingers itching and eyes aching. But I wouldn't notice any of these miseries if we were working hard enough. Page 57
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11 o'clock. The doctor came to give Jean Marais a blood test. It looks as if another carbuncle is coming up near his ear, Marais, in spite of his courage, is visibly shaken by this appalling bad luck. The doctor prescribes a remedy to sooth my hand. Unfortunately, the ointment which he told me to get for my face is unobtainable. So I must go on enduring this absurd torture. It's raining, raining. Will it be raining tomorrow? Marcel Andre will have to go back anyhow, so we must shoot his two scenes whatever it's like.
Tuesday the 2$th. Before last night's torture, Ravillac said: Tomorrow will be rough going.' It certainly has been. Rain. We leave. Reach Raray in a chaos of electrical installation, 70
lost in a mystery of cables and amperages. It's terribly cold. Dress the artists in the chateau's great hall, in the middle of which a ping-pong table has been set up. Jacques Lebreton, the sound chief, and the children are having a game. Then they fix a table up here out of planks and we all devour a disgusting meal. Shoot Marcel Andre's scene on the wall with the stone hounds behind him. Then a take of him at the bottom, standing between the vase and the plaster. After that, record his cry and the echo, thrown between the park gate and the front of the chateau. Marcel changes, takes off his make-up, has lunch, and then Darbon drives him back to Paris. After lunch, at which Jeaimot, made up as a ferocious beast, eats only biscuits and butter, we rehearse the wall Page 58
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM of busts scene. Rain. Run for it. Umbrellas. The Labedoy&re family and friends come to see us and take snaps of us all. When Antoine de Labedoyere heard that we were on a diet, he invited Marais and me to lunch tomorrow and the next day. It's clearing. Clouds moving quickly. The sun comes out then goes in again. So long as it doesn't rain any more, it's ideal weather (apart from the cold) to shoot this sequence. We manage, at last, to tackle it; in spite of great diffi culties with the sound. For first of all, we were inter rupted by a light van, then a cow, a dog, and finally, a crying child. Marais is visibly distressed by his make-up. He's revolted by his own appearance. And trying to control his feelings he has about him a quiet tension, which shows through his normal interpretation of the part. The workmen from the generating plant threaten to leave at six o'clock. Manage to persuade them to stay till
6.30. Take three shots. Two more will have completed the scene. The light's no longer good enough. The arcades no longer open on to trees but to a hole of dark ness. We light smoke flares. Clouds form behind the arcade where Marais stands silhouetted. Our shots are strange. Alekan is worried because the lights are too weak. As for me, I'm delighted with angles and the liberties we've taken with the rules of film-making. Perhaps I shan't be so pleased when I see it. I'm in agony with my teeth, ear and shoulder. My fingers are throb bing. My cheeks burning. I am shivering. Go back to the hotel and drink hot tea, Josette and Jeannot have just left my room. Have been talking to them a long time and have run through to morrow's scene with them. Page 59
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Wednesday the 26th, J a.m. Pain all night. No sleep. My face is being devoured by some unknown germ, and my gums eaten into by some other. Have the sensation of inevitable disaster. Consider dashing off to the dentist and the doctor in Paulv6's car. He should be coming to lunch at Raray. This morning I decide to try and hold out until the end of the takes. But it rains. And we've still got two of yesterday's schedule to do, and besides that, all the stag scene. It will be hopeless if it goes on raining. Now it's even worse. The electricians can't fix the lamps. Marais and Josette are already on the set. I'll join them at nine o'clock. 72
11 p.m. My face is only a shell of rashes, ravages and itches. It'll take me all my strength to forget this task, and go on living underneath it. Rained this morning, but the barometer was up. Built the scaffolding etc. for the cameras whilst the artists were making up and changing. At eleven o'clock we'll do the two shots which we missed yesterday. The light was very difficult owing to the smoke machines. Marais won't use a double. And does the jump from the terrace with the help of a spring board. After which we remember that he'd carried his hat in his right hand yesterday, whilst today he hasn't got one at all. Marais and I lunched at Madame de Labedoyere. A strange meal. I sat on the right of the old lady; she was dressed all in black, whilst Marais, on her left, was still made up as the Beast. I dare say her little girls will always Page 60
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM remember it. After lunch I returned to the wall of busts (Paulve had already eaten in our communal diningroom). The two opening shots of the next scene are very tricky. I'd like to introduce the scene with a shot of the stone and wood statue and finish it on the real stag. But the statue is too high up on the wall, and the cornice is so narrow. Josette climbs up. She's giddy but doesn't complain. She is very brave. We erect a sort of scaffold opposite where the camera-man and his assistant roost beside their machine. One of the advantages of making films is that you can mix, muddle up and use your material just as it suits you. For instance, this bit of wall will turn out like part of die balustrades which go round the cMteau moat. Our last 73
take of the evening was their walk scene through the balustrades. And it would have been absolutely perfect if some village child hadn't spoilt it all by laughing in the middle. The light, acting, movements, smoking machine, even the tops of the trees crowned by the sun, all collabo rated for once. But in one second it was ruined. We can never hope to have such luck again. But no use getting excited or crying about it; and no point in getting in volved in that nightmare of running after or trying to recapture those precise conditions which were only pro duced, in the first instance, by chance. (If one did, it would only make the film seem laboured.)
Thursday the 2Jth, 1 1 p.m. The Labedoyere family have come to the conclusion that we are not a gang of hooligans. The film interests them and they're extremely hospitable. Josette, Jeannot, Page 61
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Darbon and I lunched with Antoine de Labedoyere this morning. It threatens to be too fine. The clouds tore themselves into two to reveal a blue sky. Whereas, of course, the sequence we are doing now needs a greyish half-light. But it had changed too quickly to settle. We are soon back again in the sombre light that suits the Beast's park. Yesterday I cut from the top of the wall to the edge of the balustrade. And this morning I'll cut from the edge of the balustrade to the arch of the terrace of statues, that opens on to the trees. Heaven knows how I shall make it fit together. But I couldn't care less. 74
After the arch I'll pass in and do the stairway, to the right of where the Beast sees the fleeing stag. Which, by the way, has just arrived in a little lorry. Here he is, lying down, tethered, with all his fabulous elegance and revolt. I shot the close-up of Jeannot scenting the stag. Clement, hidden behind the Beast's collar, animates his ears by moving them with a forked twig. They prick. The effect is most striking. The unit goes to lunch. Afterwards do the close-up of the Beast's eyes. Am shown a rush of the close-up of the ears. Find it too diffused and vague. Decide to do it again which puts us behind schedule. Escoffier confesses that he's forgotten the pearl necklace for Josette's silver dress. My hands and face are causing me great pain too much for me. I get angry. Escoffier is nearly in tears. I go on and do the end of the scene where Josette pulls the Beast's sleeve, as he comes down the steps ; he takes his gloved fist from his face, she Page 62
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM touches the glove with her finger and together they come down the rest of the steps, as the camera trucks back at full speed. Light the smokes and red powder. This makes a shadow which we control by artificial light. In vivid contrast, the sky above is pale blue, flecked with pink clouds. The red powder illuminates the leaves, the pom pous smoke unfurls. I ask for action. But, it's no use. If it isn't a guinea-fowl cackling, it's a tractor passing on the road, or a peasant bellowing at his cows. I get worked up, and out of nine takes only get two good ones. One trembles to think of the amount of sheer luck required before the director, the cameraman, artists and sound can all be satisfied together. Dull sky. Trees look black. I'd like to take the shots of IS
the stag. Two toughs have all their time cut out trying to hold him on the lawn in front of the chateau. But in spite of their efforts, he rolls over and breaks loose, stricken with terror. I give it up. Pll have to take this shot in the Zoo. Which leaves us tomorrow morning for the shot of Josette's scene, transparent in her blue dress, running to look for the Beast. If possible, I'd like to do another shot of Josette in the park. Whatever light we get to morrow morning will determine the style of the whole scene at the edge of the lake. But whatever it is, I shan't take indifferent pictures back from this fantastic place. They may be good, they may be bad, but they won't be mediocre. We've worked like demons.
Friday the 28th, 8 a.m. Now my whole face is breaking out in a rash. I'm covered with sores, scabs and, on top of it all, some acid Page 63
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM serum runs through my system and tears my nerves. I suppose I shall finish the exteriors this morning. Darbon offers to take me back to Paris at eleven. But what shall I do there? Just suffer in my room. R. can't see me until 7.30. The dentist not till six o'clock. Better hang on till we finish here and go back with the others. Jeannot's boil looks angry. He was as pale as death when they took his mask off yesterday. The glue stops his circulation. It's all a cruel struggle for the film. I wonder if I ought to put a stop to it. I'll take Jeannot to R. at 7.30. Have phoned Paul. 76
Before I finish with the hunting dogs terrace at Raray I must stop and thank my unit from the bottom of my heart. They're all so helpful and friendly. It's the same with the lowest-paid stage-hand. Not one of them has sulked or lost his temper in spite of all this shifting around of wires, cameras and gear from one place to another, or got exasperated with my orders which must often seem sheer caprice. Yet I'm only greeted with smiles. Clement understands my style so well that he could direct the scenes for me. And Alekan knows in advance the kind of strangeness that I'm after. Darbon puts up with my tantrums and retakes ; whilst Aldo, our stills camera-man, whose job always brings him in at the last moment, just when the actors are tired and wanting to get off the set, manages, in those moments, to put on such an act of bad temper that the cast are so amused that he gets them to pose without knowing it, and thus by guile, extracts the last precious drop from the squeezed lemon. The make-up men and the dressers know their jobs ; whilst Lucile and Escoffier carry their tiny mistakes as if they were a cross. In short, the unit is an extension of myself. At last I have realized the dream of being not just one person but many. But for all that, I'd be mad if I forgot that bad luck has always run through my life, and that it always has Page 64
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM been and always will be, a sheer struggle. All striving and effort for even the simplest things. I'd better expect difficulties under a new disguise. I must remember this, and overcome them somehow. Yes, now they're in the disguise of germs. But I can recognize them. They don't deceive me. I will put up with this pain until it becomes unbearable, but if it does it will be too bad. One can't alter a date. P 77
If Marais can't go on filming it will be hopeless. But if he can and I'm too ill, I shall direct from a distance through Clement whom I'm sure I can trust.
4 o'clock. Shoot in the rain without any lights, using torches, magnesium and English smoke-flares. Raray is now in the can. I've simply thrown myself against the appalling conditions there, and tried, whatever the cost, to cap ture that unconscious beauty which I like so much. Now all the technicians are wandering about with geese, rabbits and vegetables. It is all parcels, good-byes, baskets and string. Josette, wearing her silver dress, holds a parasol, like Negus, as she steps over a bed of nettles. Say good-bye to the Labedoyeres, Marais, Darbon and Madame Clement go off in the car. Now it's my turn to disappear and leave the terrace of hunting dogs to their shadows and solitude. My face is burning, swelling, itching. I'm writing these lines at the hotel. Now I strap my bag and go.
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Saturday the 29th. Have seen Dr R. He isn't very happy about my face. He's more optimistic about Jean Marais. Terrible night. I'm really at the end of my tether. Darbon, Berard, Alekan and Clement came to fetch me this morning.
Went to Saint-Maurice. The decor's certainly odd but not in the way that most of them think it. 'That/ said Berard, 'looks like Montboron.' We made them set the trees and gates up. The Merchant's hall is being built on a neighbouring stage. Berard is afraid that it is too much in the style of an inn. And wants it very simply furnished. The decor helps to set the right feeling. I try to recapture the atmosphere of these rooms, all the time remembering the exteriors we took at Rochecorbon. Little by little, my dream takes on a form and becomes fixed without losing its dream-like quality. Things arrive from a thousand different places all at once. And by some sort of mysterious magnetism fall into their right positions. Go back to the Palais-Royal for lunch, but it's harder to bear the pain there than at work. Shall go to Epinay at three, though through lack of current we can't start shooting till Wednesday. We go to Joinville on Monday morning.
Sunday. Spent the day with doctors and Clement. Went over tomorrow's work: two general shots of the sets, one at night (the Merchant's arrival) the other in the morning (the Merchant leaving, and the Beast's face). Have scrapped the gates. Will use branches instead and make them part, showing the Beast's glaring eyes through them. Dined with Berard and discussed the way the costumes should be worn. He'd prefer it if the Beast didn't have those enormous sleeves, but I'll keep them because I Page 66
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM 79
want the Beast to look as big as possible. But I'll take them off in the great hall scene. I'm writing this waiting for the car. It's half past eight. We will have from nine to midday to get ready and then shoot till eight. My forehead and eyes are now affected. R. says that my chin should respond to his treatment, but that I should go to a skin specialist for the rest. But how can I find the time to see all these doctors? Marais's boil is going on well. R. hopes that it will subside in five days. But meanwhile he must go on working under his mask. Doctors are costing us a fortune.
Monday, October Ist^ 11 p.m. The lower part of my face isn't so bad this morning, but my forehead is inflamed and itches. Was at SaintMaurice at nine. A veritable whirl of intelligent ants were swarming over the decor, and putting it just so. Gradually ivy, brambles and grass invaded the sets, making them look like ruins. Moss and dead leaves cover the ground. Cameras fly up to their hidden perches. A huge awning enlarges the studios right to the street wall. The camera will truck back there. The studio door has been taken off its hinges to reveal an avenue of trees. Branches Rave been fixed up which open and close as if by magic. The chateau is wrapped in shadows, thanks to the smoke machines. First shot: of the stone cornices with the moon on them. The Merchant comes in through a fog, which the ventilators clear. The branches draw aside, he goes in. Then the branches close behind him. 80
Endless preparation. Alekan complaining that he Page 67
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM hasn't enough arcs; Darbon sulking; Clement unwell he's in for a bout of J flu. We're rescued by Tiquet; the cameraman, who has some new ideas. He arrived this morning. They make Jean Marais up it always takes four hours because even his hands, or rather claws, have to be done. About six o'clock we get around to shooting Marcel Andre leaving on Magnificent, with Marais parting the branches (close-up) and watching him ride away. We intended to take this close-up of Marais with only his eyes lit, by reflecting an arc-lamp on to them. But there isn't time. We'll have to keep this effect for some other occasion. Saw the first rushes of the stuff we shot at Raray, at 1.30. I think they are beautiful, and Marais's voice struck me as most impressive. It's the voice of an invalid, of a beast in pain. Will see the rest tomorrow evening. Left at nine, dined at home, and went straight to bed.
Tuesday evening, Oct. 2nd, 1O o'clock. Got to the studio at midday. They're fixing the camera rails up for the Merchant shot. Lunch: after which I did the stable, and the shot of the frightened Merchant go ing up the steps. That finishes with Marcel Andre here. Now for the really difficult stuff: Josette and Jeannot. Moonlight. I'm determined to do six shots in spite of Alekan being so slow, and the arcs which keep on fusing. Doing the bit where the Beast carries Beauty, Jeannot 81
kept tripping over his own sleeves, or treading on Josette's cape, and couldn't walk at all. Being super stitious I hide myself, for he's more likely to manage it if I'm not about with my junk. And he did too. Shift the Page 68
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM camera to the top of the stairs now, and do the shot of the Beast carrying Beauty , who is tattooed by the shadows of the leaves in the moonlight. At 7.30 run through all of the Raray stuff. It depresses me beyond words. The negative had been scratched in the labs. I sweat blood at the sight of every picture. But luckily the shots I liked best aren't scratched. But even so, one can see faint marks on them. This is due to an accident in the labs. But they won't admit it, and say it's due to bad stock. But the answer is that the rushes we saw the day before yesterday were neither scratched nor marked. The general effect is beautiful but too flat and grey. Which makes the chateau look like a stage-set. I begged Alekan to be careful and not over-light, but just pick out certain angles in relief. But cameramen are all alike. They're always afraid of the new but often admirable idea. But for all that, I didn't leave the projection room in complete despair, for I see that I can still make sen sational montage out of it.
Wednesday, 8 a.m. Tackled Epinay this morning (the door). The Mer chant's first sight of the Beast. And the scene in the hall. Brilliant weather for it, which should help. Am going 82
to do stuff with Marcel Andre as Jeannot's resting. His* boil's enormous. It looks as if he won't be able to go on playing Avenant in which case it will be the insurance company that's called!
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Wednesday evening, 6 o'clock. Berard and I reached Epinay at nine. Found the studio exactly as it was a fortnight ago. It's just nobody's busi ness what sort of jobs the technicians have to tackle here now. But in two hours these intelligent ants have painted the door, built the pyramids, cut the grass, suppressed some trees and created others, besides fixing up the over head gear for the cameras, and slinging them up. At four o'clock we're still at it; but even now, the carcass hasn't arrived. Apparently there's a strike at the market. At six o'clock I told everybody they could go and pointed out that this was the firm's funeral they would have to pay for a wasted day. Begin again tomorrow morning. When Paulve was having lunch with us, he exclaimed 'What! haven't you done any shots this morning?' I wonder what he'll have to say this evening? A projection with Iberia at six; realize what a com plete disaster the Raray stuff is. I'll have to make do with what I can't do without, but by prodigious cutting I'll try and scrap the worst of it. Fortunately, the things I liked best have turned out all right. Was pleased with yesterday's rushes, but after the fiasco at Raray I no longer dare flatter myself with hope. Have found the 83
beginning of the rose scene. As the Merchant steps for ward, the rose lights up. He looks at it. And the rose illuminates everything: the gate, the trees, etc. . . This means I shall be able to cut from the grey scene to the bright scene without any hitch.
Thursday morning f 8 o'clock. Page 70
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Paulve gave lunch yesterday at the bistrot in Epinay for the important members of his board of directors and the Press. Mounier said to me: 'We're counting on your work to re-establish French films/ To which I replied: It's funny that I, who am attacked on every side in France, should, at the same time, be looked to to save the prestige of a country which can apparently do nothing but call me names. I'm doing my best to make a film that will please me, and a few people I like. More than that, I can't promise.' Film people are charming. Everybody, down to the lowest stage-hand, calls me * General' it's an old gag of theirs. And though they *thee' and 'thou' me, that familiarity doesn't mean they don't respect my orders down to the minutest detail. An outsider might say that the studio looked chaotic but this chaos soon disappears. All the gear gets fixed, trees, flower-beds, sets, and even the invisible strings to open the door, gravitate to their right positions. But yesterday, for the first time, an all-essential prop wasn't to hand: the dead deer. The director for exteriors, who was responsible for obtaining this, didn't even dare 84
show his face again. I waited in the street outside the studio. His only excuse was the strike down at the market. But that's no excuse; in the film world one asks for something and gets it, no matter what. There'll he trouble if I don't get my dead deer this morning. A film is a monument but built neither in the present, past or future.
Thursday evening, 1 1 o'clock. Page 71
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM My head's about bursting after the most killing day. Beginning with a hunt through the market for the missing dead deer. Can't find it anywhere. Then to Epinay. Where the current goes off. We hang about. Drizzle. Then eventually Darbon turns up, bringing me some dead dogs, which stink so horribly I can't use them. I beer Clement to take them back to the knackers and have o them skinned. The current's still off. Lunch. Current comes on again. The rose scene's at last ready. Clement comes back and is sick after what he's seen at the knackers. Then somebody tells me that the dead deer has at last arrived. So I decide to do the door scene instead. Phone the power station and am told there's no hope of any current today. That finishes it. Drag around and leave at five. The projection room at Paulve's is fixed up. Tear off there to see the day before yesterday's rushes. A dim projection but light enough for me to see the mistakes I've made. Marais's quite right. I ought to do a close-up of Josette looking frightened, to come after the shot where Avenant says : 'Where are you going?' The negative
is bad. Can't see any trace of the powerful arcs we've used. The staircase which Josette comes down is too much to the left of the picture. I went off to R. in despair of ever finding perfection that can survive its difficulties. It's always just beyond one's reach. Sometimes one can almost touch it. But something is lacking. Perhaps with this soft stock we'd better triple the lights and shoot dark. If I go on struggling I shall end up by finding my dream again but at the cost of what exhaustion ! I go to bed with my forehead burning with the rash, completely done in.
Friday, Oct. 5*i, 8 a.m. Page 72
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Hardly slept a wink. The film goes round and round in my mind, facing me with all its faults. Alekan hasn't enough confidence. He keeps hesitating and won't take a bold enough line. The result is a certain softness in his work which I must try to correct. It's all too 'beautiful' . Whereas I wanted something harsh with more contrast and relief in it. I'll keep at him till he gets it.
p.m. Still struggling. Not a cloud in the sky this morning when I reached Epinay and everybody looked as though it was going on all right. The ventilator is fixed up. Just started to shoot the rose scene. Four shots, including the 86
one of the dead deer. I opened its throat myself and poured the haemoglobin down. Some beautiful patches of sunlight through the leaves. Stopped for lunch at midday. Started again at 1.30, at which rate I ought to get my nine shots in the can I spoke too soon: the current's just gone off again. Phoned the power station but can't get any sense out of them, except the fact that the breakdown will probably last till six o'clock. So drive the unit over to Saint-Maurice. I wanted to see the last batch of rushes again and stop them demolish ing the whole of the old decor, and supervise their new work. Told Alekan off after the run through. His mania for plotting his shots yet at the same time making them appear diffuse, revolts me. It's all too 'artistic'. And not within a mile of that documentary style that I wanted from him. It's all a matter of patience. But one must wait. Just wait. Wait for the car that's supposed to be coming to fetch you. Wait till the lights are fixed. Wait till the camera's ready. Wait whilst branches are nailed to Page 73
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM their supports. Wait. Wait till its developed. Wait for the sound track to be married to the picture. Wait till the projection room's free. Then just wait a bit longer whilst the projectionist changes the lamps which have just fused. Wait. Wait. Wait. This way our patience's proved, and our nerves tried. Nerves twisting this way, then that way. I shall start out tomorrow morning at 8.30, not even knowing whether the current will be on or not. They never warn us but just cut it off when it suits them and ruins us. And they don't give a damn. We used to say: 'It's the Germans.' But now who's to blame for this malice, which sabo tages every job in France till all is chaos ? 87
An enormous photograph of Jearmot as the Beast appears on the first page of Samedi Soir. The other photographs are undistinguished and the article * overpicturesque' and by no means accurate. An article by me and a page by Berard appear in the Images de France. We are getting 'phone calls from all over the place. The film is exciting considerable curiosity.
Saturday the 6th, 9 p.m. Thanks to my brain-wave of sending for Josette we've made up our schedule. Marcel Andre is now being shot against the light for the scene where the Beast first shows himself, and a terrible gust of wind arises. This terrible wind is of course conveniently provided by a wind machine, in front of which I stand throwing handfuls of dead leaves. The wind snatches Marcel's hat off as though the Beast himself were obliging him to stand at the ready. Marcel was through at one o'clock. I'll do the Raray scene after lunch : Beauty, walking alone in the park, comes upon the Beast whom she surprises drink Page 74
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM ing. I intended to light this scene with magnesium flares but couldn't get any more, and the red powder burns too quickly. So I used arcs and a few lamps. Smoke drifts around. Josette goes towards the garden door. She hears a lapping noise. She goes to open it. I cut. Close-up. She half-opens the door. An arc strikes her face. She looks. Then she shuts the door and turns away. I cut. Then finish with her walking up the path, musing, coming towards the camera till her face almost touches it. 88
Michel de Brunhof has come to watch us and chose some of Aldo's stills for Vogue. There's going to be no current on Monday. So we'll work tomorrow, Sunday.
Sunday the Jth f 8 a.m. The car came for Marais at 6.45;. His make-up (I must show his hands today) will take four hours. Am writing these few lines waiting for the car that's due here at the Palais-Royal at 8.30. Have just written the preface for poor Georgette Leblanc's book La Machine a Courage. Yes, certainly this woman was an absolute dynamo of courage. I must imitate her. In spite of being ravaged with rash, erupted with shingles and all sorts of pains, I manage to persist some how and continue. And this desperation suits me. It certainly doesn't stop me. My work is that of an archaeologist. The film exists, (pre-exists). And I have to unearth it from the shadow where it sleeps, with a pick and shovel. Sometimes I get frantic and dig too quickly and then only disturb it, but what fragments are left intact shine with the beauty of marble. When you think of the different things that have to Page 75
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM happen, and all at the same moment, if a shot is to be a success, you can hardly imagine it'll ever occur. But when it does, even prodigious good luck is not enough. For it can all be ruined by rotten machines. For example, if the electricity is cut when the negative is in the 89
developing tank, the whole work is ruined . You are never safe. You must keep your fingers for ever crossed. And a complete retake costs a fortune, when the sets are demolished; and, what's worse, when the spirit is burnt out. I'm well aware that great things are expected from this film. And must be careful that this doesn't put me off. Must try and work as I did on Sang du Tofae, no body then took any notice of us. That's the way: not be self-conscious. Waiting for the car yesterday, I wrote the article which Brunhof wanted for Vogue on the English Am bassadress. She wanted me to write it. She's another dynamo of courage, with her large blue eyes a blue as vivid as scarlet. She stands up to social ridicule and maintains traditional standards! We are paying now for five terrible years. 'To make bad blood' isn't a mere figure of speech not by any means. For that is precisely what we all made, and it's this bad blood which now disintegrates us. They were five years of hate, fear, a waking nightmare. Five years of shame and slime. We were all spattered and smeared with it even to our very souls. The only thing we could do was survive, hold on. Wait. And now we are paying for it. And in spite of the difficulties, we must catch up, Whatever the cost, France must shine again. I dare say America can't begin to understand what we have to over come, what it's like trying to work a machine without oil. Our workmen's skill saves us. It's beyond praise. My beard's white. I thought it would be. Well, there Page 76
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM it is, my beard's white. That doesn't matter. But it'd be a serious matter if my soul was just as faded. Thank God my blood's still red. And I'll pour it out to the last drop. I'll not spare a drop. 90
Sunday, 7.30 p.m. At last we've almost finished with Epinay. This terrible studio is nothing hut a sewer surrounded by trains, buses, woodcutters and guinea-fowl. One can hardly hear oneself speak there let alone have enough silence for the sound. I must be through with Marcel Andre by one o'clock as he's playing in Vient de Paraitre. But at twelve the current goes off and I still have to do the shots showing his terror when he first sees the Beast. By a miracle the current comes on again so we just make it. Lunch. Marais's made up with his hands done as well but he's so furious because his nails won't stick on that he won't come with us and has shut himself up in his dressing room. They take some potato puree and stewed fruit (boiled without sugar) up to him, as this ferocious beast happens to be on a diet, and anyhow he can't open his mouth without disturbing his whiskers* At two o'clock made a start on the scenes of Marais alone. The stand-in dressed as the merchant will have to do. I found some striking angles to shoot from, but daren't hope for too much, remembering what surprises film stock and the labs can turn out. Can only wait and see. Once Marais's got his long hair on, his temper seems to be shorter, and he bristles at the slightest word. He's aware of it too ; so he takes himself in hand then starts all over again. It's exhausting racing to finish by 6 p.m. To all this, Alekan remains as indifferent as any cameraman. Load the sound camera up again. Then an arc fuses. Marais forgets his lines. Darbon's face falls. Page 77
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM I get worked up then Arakelian starts retouching Marais's make-up just as I'm about to shoot. But if I haul him out, Marais will get angry. And we proceed
from one crisis to another till we eventually get around to the last take where the Beast's right hand comes to wards the camera and is held in a close-up. Give the technicians a drink all round and then leave this detestable studio for ever. Tomorrow, Monday, nothing's doing. We'll start again on Tuesday morning and do the father's room (tear scene) at Saint-Maurice, which is a studio I like. Yesterday La Victorine Studios at Nice were burned down.
Monday the 8th, 1O a.m. Shall spend the day resting, seeing doctors. Will go to the dentist, R., Clement Simon. My eyes were sore last night and I couldn't even read yesterday. Had to get Clement to read the report of Laval's trial to me in the car. This is just a case brought by politicians against politicians! Laval swims very well in dirty water. Others go under in it. Yesterday was a fete for the dogs, Moulouk and Ficelle (Lucile's dog). They devoured the deer carcase and then started on the bodies of the dead dogs. They simply rolled in them. To be honest, I just wouldn't know what to do with out this film work. For I couldn't wake from this dream and jump back with both feet into line. Besides, I'm hardly presentable except to those who are used to my miseries. I look very strange, what with my forehead, eyes and odd white beard. The world is such that it would simply think I was trying to look eccentric. So I keep myself to myself, Page 78
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Cut my appointment with the dentist after all and went to Joinville with Berard, as I wanted to go over the Merchant's house thoroughly, furnish it, soak myself in its atmosphere: live it. Berard arranged the furniture. I had to go off at 5.30 to see R,, leaving him in the middle of doing the father's room where I'll be shooting tomorrow. Just got back from seeing R. and Clement Simon. The latter loathes R. He thinks the Sulphanilamides have caused this skin disease. Which isn't a very sound diagnosis since I had the dermatitis before I started to use this Septoplix. I have to treat this dermatitis with cold compresses which the germs don't like, apparently. But simple as this treatment is, it's almost impossible when filming because one can't rest, diet or keep anything sterile. A studio is the very antithesis of a clinic. Only people with iron constitutions can stick it, invalids certainly can't. In fact they're not welcome.
Tuesday the tyth } 11 p.m. A good day full of the kind of work I like. Every thing went as well as could be expected. Though the studio was cold at first owing to the wet plaster. But it soon warmed up once the lights were on. Soon the neatly arranged room was reduced to chaos by having to move things around to get at the right shooting angle, and in the end, the set looked like a Ver Meer sacked by vandals. Marcel Andre slept right through all this with the sheets right up to his chin. We kept the floor tiles G 93
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM covered with paper till they had to be shown. Berard arrived on the lorry at nine. Josette was there at seven; I, at 8.30. It always takes such a time to get a set ready. By midday, we'd only just managed to do the shot which comes before the stunt when Josette passes through the wall. The camera pans round the room, then focuses quickly across to the wall. Will start the stunt shot with this same camera movement so as to link up. After lunch do the scene of Josette kneeling beside the bed. It's now getting on for six and the union won't let us go a second over time. It's seven minutes to six and Alekan is still setting the lights on Josette for the shot that follows the stunt. She must sparkle. And not until two minutes to six do we get that effect, but just in time to do the shot of her coming in, taking her glove off, throwing it on the bed and kneeling down beside it. In order to get enough room for the trucking rails we've had to break through a wall and move the furniture back; and this set, which was so carefully put together, is now a shambles again. We have reflected patches of light from large water vats and bits of broken mirror over the characters so as to give them the appearance of luminous marble as in the ceilings at Villefranche. And thus gradu ally I coax the myths and memories of my childhood back again. If only I have managed to fix them on to the screen. But that's no easy matter we shall see.
Wednesday the 10th 3 8.30 a.m. No use complaining. Must go through with it some how, whatever the cost. The irritation on my face is un94
bearable. And now on top of it, my eyes, ears and arms are also affected. Only thing to do is to work so hard I Page 80
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM forget it. Made an awful mistake yesterday. I shot the father's bedroom with the furniture still there and this, of course, had all been taken away previously by the money-lender. But I've got around it and made my mis take into a discovery. For of course, when Beauty comes back, so must the furniture return too in its place, as if by magic. This afternoon, we must show the room suddenly empty again before Ludovic confesses that he's signed the bond.
Wednesday evening, 1 1 o'clock. I've been worried all day by an oppressive sense, not exactly critical and certainly not common. But the feeling that I am out of touch with the world. Stage-hands stand around in groups union meetings or something and the whole film seems moribund. And a loathsome lugu brious light envelopes the artists, however much Alekan focuses arcs on them. Somehow, they won't hold their power properly and spoil the takes. Josette can't go on kneeling for ever. The fake diamonds have no fire to them. Only real diamonds will sparkle after all. I must do some thing about it. Can't do the last scene. Time's up. Lamps go off. Go over my directions for tomorrow morning's scene Ludovic with the bailiffs. Run through. Some of it's superb. But far too grey and dim. Is this the lab's fault? I hope so. I'll ask them
to print with more contrast. And see if I can't obtain artificially what Kodak stock seems incapable of getting. My beard grows. My forehead peels. My boils multi ply. I struggle on. Have been given a book about myself written by Lannes and published by Seghers.
Thursday morning the llth, J o* clock. Page 81
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Woke up this morning after a night in which my dreams seemed to move like dirty water forming mon strous waves. My neck hurts. And yesterday a boil started on the back and is already bigger. Pain's trying to find my weakest point in its effort to overcome me. I'll fight the germs as long as I can. But they are stronger than we are. Work from nine to 4.30. The studio hands knock off for a union meeting. On Saturday the sound people, who are stupidly paid anyhow, went on strike. Shall have to shoot the silent sequence: of the stag and Josette's faint. It's all a struggle, internal and external. Everything conspires against this film.
Thursday evening. This morning we shot the scene which was left over yesterday evening, (the one where the bailiffs carry off the chest and Ludovic comes in and confesses to his 96
father). After lunch we all went on to the great hall set. Berard turns up. He thinks the dresses are in a bad state, deals with them and rearranges the set. The slightest breach of taste here would make the whole thing turn into 'Ye Olde Inn 5 . But there's no need to worry. For Berard arranges the simple furniture and makes it look like a Ver Meer again all in a few minutes. Then we went to deal with the decor of the extravagant forest which I'm having built on a neighbouring stage for the sequence where the merchant loses his way in the mist. I do admire these stage-hands. They really do achieve the impossible. And copy nature so well that they even fool the animals. Dogs scratch at the foot of their fake trees and horses stop to nibble their fake branches. Climb ladders and reach the top of a veritable moun tain of wood and plaster. Plot the angles with Clement Page 82
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM and Alekan and find some which I could never have visualized from the ground. Sound goes on strike on Saturday so shall take the opportunity to go on doing silent sequences such as the merchant wandering in the wood trying to find his way. The choice of what we can do is narrowed down what with Marais's illness and the less serious matter of the dresses. It's out of the question to make Jeannot work and quite impossible to use some of the dresses. But I'll go on somehow, no matter what. I can't praise Josette enough; except where she looks too big, all the scenes I ran through of her yesterday are adorable. Her acting is grace and simplicity itself and just the right style for the good little girl telling hei father things he cannot understand himself; and yet, for all her splendour, she doesn't humiliate him. I'm enormously indebted to Pagnol. The tear stunt has come off better then we'd dared hope. 97
Friday the 12th Oct., 11 p.m. One of the worst problems that results from turning time inside out and upside down is how to remember which dress and what hair style the actresses must wear now so as to correspond with the scene that went before and the one that will come after. But this morning I can indulge in the luxury of transforming Mila. We had brought Berard out to Saint-Maurice and he shut himself up in her dressing room with her. An hour later an ab solute marvel appeared. A perfect Spanish portrait as violent as a caricature. The actress's little doll-like head was framed under the cone of a high wig, tied with red ribbons, set with diamonds and boned, coned, waved, curled and furled till it stood like a fantastic submarine plant. This was for the supper scene. Beauty is serving at table and then runs off when her sisters insult her. Which Page 83
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM links up to her scene with Jeannot which we took at Rochecorbon and that is so bad I intend to do it all again. I begged Alekan to get plenty of contrast into this scene. At five o'clock the men start throwing up enough scaffolding to besiege a whole town, and in less time than it takes the actors to make up. All of which blocks the stairs, so we have to run up and down ladders till we al most meet ourselves on them, and now we've got to push the trucking rail up to the inmost corner of the wall. And there we do the sequence of the sisters leaving Beauty's room as Ludovic comes up and asks them for the golden key. I had hoped to do one more scene: where Ludovic follows his sister upstairs as she won't listen to him. It 98
would have been an original perspective. But it's already six and we must stop at half past, so it's too late. No more for now. So I go and wander in my forest. Will shoot Marcel Andre on the horse tomorrow. My beard's grow ing longer. My cheeks thinner. But we have to catch up with the schedule and fill in a bit, too.
Saturday the 13th Oct., 8 a.m. We ' re going to work on the forest today from midday till 8 p.m. Alekan will have been at Saint-Maurice since nine doing his tetrachloride tests. Like the wind machine and most of the equipment in rotation, the fog gadget's now out of order. So I seize this opportunity to snatch a rest. I haven't the remotest idea how this film will turn out. But I've stood in the wings and directed every shot with all the intensity and passion that I can summon. I have gone through all the stuff I have shot in Touraine Page 84
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM but haven't yet selected the material taken at Raray, Epinay or Saint-Maurice. I'd like to take my time at this with the whole story at my finger-tips ; and then not choose a shot merely because it's good photography. It's just possible that a certain slowness will come out in the film in spite of shooting all these short scenes in such a rush. Nobody can foretell. And it's a question I refuse to worry about. I just work from day to day trying to concentrate on each shot on each object as it comes along. But it would be strange indeed if some beauty doesn't emerge from all our efforts. Iberia assures me that it will. But, worse luck, nothing is certain in films; one 99
can always be mistaken. Sometimes, I catch myself say ing: 'As far as I'm concerned, that shot was perfect' after a take that's gone just wrong somewhere. And I've often had those boss shots developed to find they've turned out all right.
Sunday the 14th Oct., 6 p.m. Was too ill to write yesterday evening. For the first time, pain triumphed all along the line. The torture was terrible, the boil on the back of my neck was like a demon and I thought I'd have to throw in. But, thanks to my unit, even if I did, the work could go on. Marais could produce the actors, Clement direct the camera, Iberia the continuity. And, of course, Berard could contribute the miracle. My unit is good enough to go on for a week without me; as Madame de La Fayette says: 'par machine*. A blood test this morning. R. came at five. Apparently, I'm very, very ill. At seven, Dr Chabannier told me the result of the analysis: sugar's there again; it's that, of course, which encourages the germs to make this offen sive. Shall have to start the insulin again. Shall go to the Page 85
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM studio as long as I am able. But go I will. Tackled the forest yesterday. It's a complete world of artificial grass, moss and bark. The groom from whom we hire Marais's horse took one look at the set, then dis appeared, frightened that we were going to get up to some tricks with his Arab. When I arrived: no horse. Now everybody's looking for a horse! Cars dash off in every direction. At last it's found. We sooth the groom.
Take up positions but now it's too late and, whereas we'd planned six shots, we shall be lucky if we do two. Will use doubles for Josette and the others. The fog and the distance will enable me to get away with it. Will do the sisters' room after that. Nothing's more mysterious than photography. I'm looking at my photo on the cover of Monde Illustie it was taken in Touraine when I thought I was quite cured, whereas I was, in fact, far from well. The camera could see what I couldn't even feel. I thought I was perfectly fit but it's a photo of a sick man. It seems I was right to fight against diffuse lighting and the use of gauzes. For yesterday's pictures were a thou sand times more robust and had got that clean, sculp tured line in the lighting which I admire so much in Perinal. It isn't kind to women but it does bring out their character. Alekan is gradually finding his balance and a style or whatever it is that corresponds to the way I tell a story, gesticulate or write. He's most helpful and I'm very grateful to him. He's never difficult or tries to prove I'm wrong. Our unit becomes more and more homogeneous.
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Monday the l$th October. It's rather damp in the forest today for it's a plaster forest and the cold strikes up through one's shoes, which isn't exactly good for one's cold. I'm always without either one horse or the other. Groups of unknown sight seers drift through my trees, climb over my hillocks and
get in the technician's way. They are all armed with Kodaks. But in spite of it all I manage somehow or other to go on working in this fog and under these glaring arcs. And I'll pick out what will go into a quick montage. Marais's still got his boil. Mila's got a temperature of 102.2. We'll have to call in the insurance company again. Have finished off with a bird's eye shot of Josette's double on Aramis taken from one of the trucks slung between two cranes. If Mila's illness stops her making a start on the sisters' room tomorrow, I'll go on with the forest. And do some close-ups which will come in handy when we come to cut. Have an appointment with Ib6ria at 10.30 to choose the Raray, Epinay and Saint-Maurice material. First class projection. Alekan has got what I wanted. My boils ex haust me. Insulin tomorrow.
Tuesday the l6th October. I'm not in the least proud of the fact, but I wonder who else would work as I work, suffering as I suffer? What I mean is, I wonder if there is any professional in this field in which I am an amateur who'd exert himself at the cost of all his strength, preferring the work to his Page 87
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM own health; who'd go on living in this topsy-turvy world of make-up men in this cyclone of dust, moving furni ture, with the back of his neck being bitten into as if by a beast, rods of pain riveting the nerves of his skull and shoulder. And all this time with a cold, an incurable cold in the head which, though it always raises a laugh
or two on the music-halls like the mention of cuckolds isn't so funny for all that. I wonder what would happen to me if it weren't for Jean Marais's devotion and kind ness? He looks after me though he's ill himself, and even comes to Saint-Maurice to give me my insulin injections. Did the sisters' room today. In one hour, whilst 1 was choosing the takes with Iberia in the projection room, Berard rearranged it and gave it elegance, comfort and that peculiar disorder which any room has that's welllived in. 'If you can arrange to get through seven scenes,' Paulve promised, 'I will leave your forest set intact.' And I have. Even adding three extra shots. One of Cabriole; the arrow landing in the room; the table being over turned, panning up to Nane Germon crying 'My dress!' For the third time Jacinthe refused to stay on the cushion. She must have known what was coming. Projection: Forest in the fog. Some of it's all right, but I haven't got enough for the montage. The backers will have to realize that it's sheer madness for them to spend a fortune on building a set and then snatch it away before one can use it properly.
Wednesday the ijth October, 11 p.m. Page 88
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Watch the work, stretched out on a bed with yellow canopy in the sisters' room. Well, not exactly, for the back of my neck's so bad I can't even stretch. Do some fairly straightforward scenes as contrast to the more bizarre stuff we've already done. Was through 103
by 6.30 which means I can take my time tomorrow and go easier. Saw Dr D. (specialist on boils) at eight o'clock. The diet we'd been following amazed him. He told us to drop it and take some injections to clean our blood up and act as a tonic.
Thursday, 4 a.m. Woke up with unbearable pain. As I can neither sleep, nor even walk up and down, I pick up this notebook to try and sooth myself by crying my pain to the unknown friends who will read these lines. They exist. I know them without knowing them. I visualize them in the darkness. A ferocious beast (the Beast) has got its paw on the nape of my neck and is torturing me. The car buncle is just getting a root and legions of germs encircle it, to protect me. A furious battle which I view against the background of the night. An endless battle which germs have waged for years, for generations, building a positive Wall of China round pain. Have just had to take some pyrethane. In spite of my resolutions I can't bear any more. I am, I suppose, paying now for the pleasure of directing a film which I'd dreamt about for months and months. Pain forces me to complain. It is like a vicious thorn on top of the already burning bush of my flayed nerves. And now my ears are throbbing. How can I go on Page 89
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM bearing this? What can I do? I must do something. And now the light's gone off. I thought it might stay off all night, but now it's back. I will try to draw my torture. 104
There are plumes of pain, smoke-clouds of pain, flourishes, lightnings and illuminations of pain. Huisinan and Cohen came to see me this evening about nine, about their project of a documentary film on my work. They saw the state I was in when I came back from the doctor. And after staying about five minutes they went off again. I never thought I would have to comfort myself again by doing these drawings, as I used to in the days when I was under Doctors Derick and Solier. But then it was a question of disintoxication. And perhaps it is now? Per haps these carbuncles are the disintoxication of my system as it throws off natural toxins in its disgust with life.
Thursday evening, 1 1 o'clock. Dr Dumas can't give me the sulphate of copper in jections because the nettle-rash has started again on my eyes. The lesion on the nape of my neck is still very hard and painful. Our work today was terribly difficult as the electricity broke down every other hour. All the same I managed to get the scene where Nane ties the velvet bows on Mila's pointed wig, into the can. I had placed a bas ket-work of wires before the arcs, so that they would throw shadows on to the actresses' faces as though under the shadow of the birdcages. After lunch, tackled the hall scene where the sisters come in from the stable, carrying the magic mirror. Finished up at six by doing the monkey which Mila sees in the mirror when she looks into it. He was a charming Page 90
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creature. I did this shot by putting an ordinary glass into the mirror frame and placing the monkey behind it. We made him wear a bonnet like the sisters wear, and put a ruff round his neck, and sat him on an open book a la Char din. And tomorrow morning I'll do the old hag whom Nane sees. After that we'll deal with the sequence of the Mer chant coming home after seeing the Beast. (The scenes where Marais is shown only in profile, or rather it's a three-quarter shot.)
Friday evening, midnight. If I wrote every evening: 'I have finished my seven shots. I have finished such and such scene' it would be tedious. The essential thing for me to do is to try and make young people, who will one day read me, realize heroism is the first attribute of a poet, that a poet is only a servant of the power of the forces that drive him, and, as a good servant, he must never abandon his master, but follow him even to the scaffold. My pain was so violent today that I was afraid, all the time, that I was going to faint. But somehow managed to go on, managed to direct, invent, and receive visitors as if I had an in exhaustible supply of energy . But several times I felt the symptoms of protoxjde azote: an utter nausea with the commotion around me which seemed suddenly to be all of a piece and incurably vulgar. And yet we were rushing headlong into a multiple world where all was wonder, delicate and secret and besides which all our 106
clutter looks like a farce in bad taste. I suppose it's Page 91
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM a faint coming on. Our world certainly exists, we must be modest about it. Up till now, I haven't stopped directing, telling them where to place the camera, producing the cast, running to fetch them from the directing-rooms, seeing the rushes and trying to hurry Alekan and Aldo who are both slowness itself. I have set myself against that tribunal which condemns anything out of the ordinary to torture. I'm determined to accomplish the exceptional. It is the one thing France can still do.
Saturday morning, the 20th October. Last night was so unbearable that I was almost happy. It was the hair shirt, the ecstasy of a monk. In Le Sang d'un Poete the statue says: 'You have written that you walked through a mirror but you didn't believe it.' It would be ridiculous to write 'a poet must be a saint' and then complain just when there is a chance of proving it. I look at myself in the mirror. It's awful. But doesn't worry me in the slightest. The physical doesn't matter any more. Only the work and its beauty counts. It would be criminal to make the film suffer and reflect the drudg ery of my suffering and ugliness. The screen can be a true mirror and reflect the flesh and blood of my dreams alone. As for the rest, that doesn't matter any more. On top of everything, I have tracheitis. I keep coughing and each cough makes the open wound hurt more. If I 107
were in good health perhaps it would be the film which would then be ill. I am paying. Paying in full. Which is the moral of Les Chevaliers de la Table Ronde, a play that no body understood, because at that time nobody would take anything seriously or make the slightest effort. A work which devours its author isn't a fancy. It is a truth that such work hates us and contrives by any foul means Page 92
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM to cast us off.
Suadaj the 21st. Things reach a crisis. It was as though my neck were being sawn through with a blunt saw. After lunch, I was drunk, completely sick with pain. I thought I was going to faint. I could see from the way the technicians looked at me that they were afraid of it too. Their kindness is unending. Raymond Meresse, the chief electrician, brought some fresh lard which one can't get anywhere. I have to put it on my face every night. But all the same, I was able to pull myself together enough to direct the scene preceding Marais's slapping Mila's face and found a good perch for the camera. An endless stream of visitors from Switzerland and Belgium (Formes et Couleurs ) etc. . . ) all interested in the film, wanting photographs. One thing delighted me at every projection and that is the realization that none of us are making the mistake of looking at every shot as though it were a still. That quality must be secondary to the scenes and not dominate them. The danger with cinema work is that if you try to set the effect of a Rem108
brandt you end up with a Roybet. It's much safer not to worry about that quality then and find you've achieved a Ver Meer after all. Had my beard shaved yesterday which has already gone a long way to relieve the terrible itch as each hair was an antenna of pain. In 194^ it costs 200 francs to have a shave. This morning Nane Germon took us to a little restaurant that makes a speciality of oysters, as my new doctor has recommended them. I don't like appearing in public. The Parisian is tactless and cruel. Pain seems to Page 93
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM amuse him. In the tube yesterday evening a young Cap tain, realizing that I couldn't stand, offered me his seat. I can't get over it. Generally my bandages only make people laugh.
Sunday evening. My eye is affected now and is swollen up as if it had been whipped with nettles.
Monday the 22nd, evening. The pain is now a torture, a torture so horrible that I am ashamed of ever showing myself; and it is that which might make me decide to stay at home. At eight o'clock, Dr D. came and found my general condition a little better but what can he do against this lace of nerves which defend themselves by such revolt?
Have shot the famous face-slapping scene. I hope to use only one take but Michel, put off by the slap,, forgot his cries. Only five minutes before, poor Mila, who is always in the wars, was hurrying out of her dressingroom when she fell over her dress and now has a large bruise on her right cheek. However, we took it all right; Mila cried and Marais comforted her; the dressers rushed round her and made up for lost time: they had had to keep silent while we were recording the slap.
Tuesday the 23rd. Lymphangitis. Phlegmon on the neck. Impetigo start ing. Bronchitis. Did yesterday's scene again this morning. Beauty's room. Decide with Paulve and Darbon to stop Page 94
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM the film.
Wednesday midday. Can't bear the agony of my face any more. This morn ing Paul went to see Professor Martin to get me admitted into the Pasteur Institute. Have an appointment there at 2 . 3 o . I am in such pain I even wonder if I can hold out till then. I am terribly distressed at having to interrupt the work. But I have stood all I can. I can't bear any more. It's driving me mad.
Thursday the 25th. I am reminded of what Thomas Mann wrote to me, a long time ago when I was at Toulon with typhoid: 'Your type dies in hospital. 5 I've been here in the Pasteur Institute since yesterday. Professor Martin was kind enough to let me have a bed straight away: (his flat's in the basement). Marais saw me into my cell, then went home to get linen, butter, fruit, cigarettes and the notebook and pencil I'm now using. They started the penicillin treatment immediately. Peni cillin and the atom bomb are now the height of fashion. But like all fashions, they will pass. And the word 'peni cillin' will, to those who read these notes one day, pro duce the same effect as the word 'panorama' in Pere Goriot. And the atom bomb will become just a squib. But in i94, penicillin produces extraordinary cures. I'm injected every three hours. And in the morning get a very painful injection in the hard but sensitive core of the carbuncle itself. They can't do anything for the impetigo Page 95
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM and dermatitis on my face until my neck's cleared up. A hospital is the only perfect nursing home : I am in a sort of small surgical ward, where the doctors and the nurses want nothing better than to nurse and get one well quickly. If a visitor comes he can only see me through a glass. I haven't any books. I shan't write anything here but these notes. And I won't let myself think about the film. This is a breathing spell, a parenthesis of calm. Shut up at Saint-Maurice, blinded by pain, I didn't even realize it was autumn. But from my iron bed I can see an old brick wall through the french windows, and some trees losing their yellow leaves as they're blown by the wind.
5 o'clock. Jeannot, Paul, Michel Auclair came to see me. They were allowed into my ward; I'm afraid people may find out who I am. The last thing I want is to have special favours. I'm in hospital and would like it to remain a hospital. An occasional visit to break this astonishing solitude would then be something to look forward to. When I saw Michel's face outside my window my heart jumped with pleasure. Josette and Nane promised to come tomorrow. I thought Jeannot looked off colour and he's got a cough so I made him promise to go and see Martin, and get an appointment. He did so and has one for tomorrow at eleven o'clock. Have just eaten the bowl of soup and carrots that re appear every day. It's perfect here. And you can imagine how wonderful it is when anyone brings us any fruit or champagne. It's rather like Beauty coming into the wash-house dressed as a Princess. Page 96
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Friday the 26th October. Have had terrible irritation this morning, particularly on the lower part of my face. However, my neck and shoulders don't trouble me so much. It seems that those very painful injections of penicillin into the carbuncle have stopped the inflammation which looked as if it might turn septic. 112
Penicillin is only active for three hours. That's why the patient has to be injected regularly. Once germs have found a way to counteract its effect, they'll become im pervious and once more triumph over the genius of man. What makes one think of man in relation to germs is that they both defend themselves by destroying the place where they live. The doctors came. Martin is stopping the general peni cillin treatment, and I'm only to have the hateful in jections. However, these do seem to get immediate results. Professor Aubin came to see me, he's an excellent fellow. When Jean Marais had otitis, he used to come every day to the Place de la Madeleine. And he'd never accept a penny. (It was just the same with Martin, who was Marais 's doctor at about the same time, and then certain ly not as well off jas he is today.) Marais became so friendly with both of them that, even now, he's always talking about them. He used to say he would like to have Aubin for a father. He would let him puncture his ears again and again, and never flinch, and he'd never have an anaesthetic. Page 97
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM My secretary is being phoned all day long *Is it true that Cocteau has a beard? Can we take a photograph?' What stoicism the reporters show and perfect in difference to other people's suffering. The doctor has just given me a local injection. It was terrible. I feel that he really doesn't like to inflict such agony although he must be used to it by now. I wonder what Jean-Pierre Aumont would think if he could see me in this glass cage, being cured by American penicillin and fed by the butter he sends from Hollywood. 113
Saturday morning the 27th, 1O o'clock. My face itched again during the night, and my right hand, which had begun to clear up, now torments me and has started to suppurate. The doctor came to ad minister the penicillin torture whilst the insurance com pany's doctor looked on. It has been decided that I shall stay here till next Wednesday, and then take four or five days off. I hope to start work again on the Tuesday or Wednesday at Saint-Maurice. The psychology of these nuns is interesting. They're not supposed to show their own feelings ; with the result they become the automata of collective kindness. It is as impossible for them to reveal their own personality as it is for many actors to make a movement on the stage which they haven't rehearsed for instance, when some body's hat accidentally falls off, they can't even pick it up ... These excellent nuns nurse the patients' ward. They do not nurse the patient. His case is too individual. That would require initiative. And the slightest in jection of initiative would upset all their routine and amount to a crime of lese-majesty against the Medical Superintendent. The patient is in pain during the night? Page 98
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM He must wait the rounds. Then in comes an automaton, draped in linen, who tidies the cell and disappears again. Which doesn't prevent these nurses from being charming, gay, and ready to laugh at any little thing they can. The whole Pasteur Institute is organized round con tagious diseases. And no exception can be made without disastrous effects. The result is that patients like myself, who are being treated with penicillin, but not themselves contagious, have to follow the same rules as those who are. We cannot open or shut the window. We cannot go out
of doors, or even drink or eat without having our plate or mug whipped away by a sort of a murderer's glove, as if it were stained with blood. And this endless repetition of the Lady Macbeth, ghosts draped in white linen with scarlet gloves come and go through the corridors with arms extended, recalling the image of Josette going through the wall to her father, thanks to the magic glove only that one was blue.
2 o'clock. Paul's just gone off with the Swiss publishers, and Gaston Bonheur. They were allowed in without any questions asked. I have signed the contract for my complete work and they're going back to Geneva this evening.
Sunday the 28th. Page 99
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Whilst I was pondering about the incredible number of odd things still left for us to do such as synchronizing some shots, adding some links here and polishing there, and in general meditating on the enormous amount of patient work which goes into any film, it occurred to me howpathetic it is that French audiences are, in general, so grossly inattentive and indifferent both to the cinema and
the stage. They are seldom hypnotized by the screen, and it's only in the cheapest flea-pits that you find an audience who will listen and look attentively. But, apart from these places, the audience just fidget, shuffle for their cigarettes in the dark, can't find them, turn round and ask somebody behind for a light. Such people occasionally watch, and occasionally listen, recollect some image which has already ceased to have any meaning ; (but what do they care, they are only interested in criticizing someone's profile and somebody's dress). It seems to me that this crime of inattention, which no one admits to, is the worst kind of insult that is chucked at art. It's that which is largely responsible for the general feebleness of our culture. Egoism is the cause of such conduct. 'I reach the theatre, then I look for my seat, disturbing the audience, and distracting the actors. But what does that matter? I hear it's a rotten play anyhow; and besides, other people don't exist, or only in so far as they can satisfy my pleasure.' And what pleasure! Every work of art is in comprehensible if we skip a single line. And yet this public, which dares to judge, habitually arrives at the end of the first act. I suppose that's why one generally ends up by just serving up rubbish to this ill-mannered lot. It's all they deserve. And even that, they taste absent-mindedly. What a universe do such imbeciles miss. If they only knew what waves of sustenance can flow to an eye and an ear that is watching and listening, their lives would per Page 100
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM haps cease to be such whirlpools of vacuity. Perhaps there ought to be a Conservatoire for audiences. But if they got as much benefit from such an institution as the artists have done, they would learn nothing. And it 116
would merely reproduce an even wider rift between the stage and its audiences. France, it seems, is the only country in Europe where such filthy manners are tolerated. In China, Indo-China and Japan, the theatre is, of course, a cult; but I was thinking of England and Germany, where I have been to the theatre and noticed that any member of the audience there who as much as crumples a cigarette-paper, soon finds himself an object before a tribunal of disapproving eyes. In France, we start off by thinking kindness is a form of stupidity and unkindness as something clever. And nowadays politeness is considered a sheer waste of time. One suffers proof of this every day. I stood aside to allow a lady to get out of the metro. 'You're blocking the door deliberately!' she screamed. This lady was red with hatred. I have a habit of saying: 'Thank you' to the women who punch my ticket. Many think that I am making fun of them and shrug their shoulders at me with disgust. I'm beginning to see the sense of the nuns' admirable routine, and realize that any individualistic deviation would take the starch out of the coifs which frame their faces. For it is this impersonal manner and timetable, day in, day out, year in, year out, which sustains them and keeps them to their work like a plough-horse in its traces. Page 101
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM It's extremely difficult for people outside such a routine to put themselves in the place of one of these cogs in a machine, these grains of sand. But to that, they could reply 'You are also a cog'. And that is perfectly true. Martin's just come. He thinks the wounds are going on 117
all right. Though the carbuncle on my neck is still with standing the siege. As for the rest, it's improving. He's left off the martyrdom for Sunday. Even when I've left the Pasteur Institute, cured, I shall have to start work with bandages still on.
Sunday evening, J o'clock, Now night is falling; nothing's so strange as a hospital night with its huge silence after all the attendance and visitors of the day. My cell is a high blue and white cubicle, balanced like a projection room, shadows flickering on the partitions. This play of shadows looks exactly like watered silk or the marble ceilings of a sea side hotel. And the pattern is very complex as the wards each side, the windows, the corridor, and the apartment house through the trees all project and superimpose one shadow across another. Waves of friends have left caviare, flowers and bottles of champagne which doesn't exactly suit the style of my cubicle, making it look like something out of an American film. It's raining. Nane tells me that the insurance companies don't regard me as a good risk and are not keen on covering me for another film. Oh well, in that case, I'll write books. I'll produce plays. Anyhow, there'll be Page 102
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM La Belle to stand alongside of Sang d'un Pobte. Of course, if the insurance companies realized how one burnt oneself out making films, they'd never dare in sure any of our breed and would only cover productions 118
of extreme banality. Clement and Bella came to see me. He says that Saint-Maurice looks sinister and empty. Le Collier de la Reine has been interrupted again by one of those crises with the backers. Our sets are ready. But the studio hands are on strike. I hope to God that I can get on my feet soon.
1O o'clock. This is the time when he coughs. His cough sometimes wakes me with a jolt. It's terrifying. It emerges, swells, forms scrolls and excrescences till it's like a lacerated orchid. This fabulous voice is as a monitor lost in the labyrinth of corridors, and barks like the innumerable explosions in a war-film. He's been in this hospital a year. If it weren't for him it would be a rest cure here; but with him it's hell. One just waits from cough to cough.
Monday the 2$th. And now I must tell the truth. I have never been so happy as I have since I've been ill. The pain's nothing. And I've pulled through, thanks entirely to my unit's kindness and affection which is my reward. The end less responsibility and the effort of staying on my feet exalted me. My suffering itself was a contribution to the film and I'm sure it hasn't been for nothing. I gave in only when I saw I was no longer giving it life but death. Page 103
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM I suppose it's only right and just that my face should swell, crack, be covered with sores and hair, and that 119
my hands should bleed and erupt, since, after all, haven't I forced Marais to cover his face and hands with a shell of make-up which is as painful in removing as the agony of my own dressings. It is as it should be, and I would not have it otherwise; if it were, I would be more than dis tressed. Emile Darbon came to see me in very good form and was most reassuring. One gets the impression that Darbon loves both the film and the unit, and is bored without us I told him of the insurance company's attitude; he shrug ged his shoulders. Have seen Martin. He's convinced that the trouble on my forehead and the sores between my fingers on my right hand need further diagnosis. He advises me to see the specialist at Saint-Louis. When the doctor came this morning, the root of the carbuncle came right out. Its size amazed me. As the doctor said: 'You've a hole as big as a franc in the nape of your neck. ' Doctor Dumas came. He's cross because I can't go and recuperate up in the mountains before starting work again. 'What a lot of flies in your ward. Pasteur hated them', he remarked.
W p.m. Several visitors. Am presented with champagne, chicken, flowers and cigarettes. My little cubicle is too Page 104
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM narrow to hold all the presents . Alekan informs me that we are going to get 6,000 metres of Agfa stock. He's in despair after seeing the day before yesterday's rushes, as 120
he now realizes that all the work we've done would be a hundred times more effective if we had really sensitive, film. Til keep this good stock for the Beast's Hall sequence. Darbon didn't say anything this morning but I hear he hopes to get a bit more. Alekan tells me that the stuff I think good is considered by some people at the studio as hopeless, badly lit and a mess. But of course, he doesn't know that I have had years and years of it, and every time anybody tries any thing out of the ordinary, people just sneer. They can't see over their own rut or recognize anything which they haven't known before. It is now accepted that poetic things must be soft, whereas, in my opinion poetry is precisely the opposite, something almost mathematical. And I'm pushing Alekan in precisely the opposite direction away from what these fools think is poetic. He is slightly bewildered he hasn't struggled as long as I have andreached the serenity which one eventually attainsafter being faced with the stupidities of this age all one's life. Nothing's so dreary as that sort of uniformity which the know-alls call style. A film must distract the eye with its contrasts, with unrealistic effects. It has to find, as Goethe said, a truth that is beyond truth, and in opposi tion to reality. (In Rubens's engraving of the sheep, which Goethe showed to Eckermann, the shadow's on the same side as the sun.) And so in a film, sometimes one has to light one face more than it might be in reality, and give a candle the power of a lamp. In the Beast's Park I used a sort of twilight which doesn't, incidentally, correspond to the time when Beauty goes out. And if it suits my purpose, I will drag this twilight along with the moonlight, if I need it. And it's not just because Tin Page 105
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM dealing with a fairy story that I treat realism in such a Hi
high-handed way. Making a film is the same as writing, only in pictures. And I try to get an atmosphere which will bring out the feeling in the film rather than corres pond to the facts. Tuesday the 3Oth. The doctor thinks I ought to stay over Thursday, and perhaps Friday too. I'm afraid these sulphanilamide dressings may bring my face out in nettle-rash again, as the skin's so sensitive. Perhaps it would be better if I came back to the Institute every day and had my penicillin dressings here. But I don't see how I can, as the studio times don't fit with the Institute's. Yesterday, somebody brought in my Gran d Ecart manu script (though I don't know who owns it). I didn't recognize it; the school exercise books had been stuck onto numbered pages, and the whole sumptuously bound. Turning it over, I came across the exercise book's pale green cover still with its cock and scrawled with doodles ; and suddenly I saw the hotel at Le Lavandou again, the Pension Bessy at Pramousquiers and Radiguet rolling his cigarettes and taking notes for the Bal du Comte d'Orgel. I was overcome with nostalgia.
Tuesday evening. Here I am alone, listening to the cough, and watching shadows. The dressing has stuck to my neck and hurts;
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM 122
but I can't get anyone to come. For it Is a rule historic here that if you want anybody, you tap a spoon against a cup, which, of course, no one can hear; and besides, there's practically no one there anyway between seven and eleven of an evening Marcel Jouhandeau left about seven. He'd been telling me some sort of fairy stories about rams, cocks and chickens. A very charming man has just been 'in and given me a fresh dressing. Also brought me some new stills to choose, and Budry brought the enlargements for Formes et Couleurs for me to caption. He'll come for them to morrow. More people, more presents. My little cell is full of things which I can't share with the other patients as it's against the hospital rules. I can't bear to see it all wasted, so have to wangle it so that they can enjoy some of it too.
Wednesday morning. Have been reading the book which Jouhandeau brought me yesterday all night and all this morning. There are only four copies. Essai sur moi-meme. As I closed the book last night, I thought of the remark Roger Lannes quotes from the Potomak: 'God made man in his own image; and I, tempted by God as others are by the devil, press myself to my own image with all my strength.' Jouhandeau's book is a book of love. It should be called Tristan and Tristan. It's already got a name for itself and Marcel can afford to ignore the conspiracy of silence with which they're trying to kill him. Page 107
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He tells me he's been much better ever since he's taken to getting up at four o'clock to work. Nothing dis turbs him then, everything's asleep. And so this way he escapes from the whirlpool of men. When they stir he has finished.
Wednesday evening, W o'clock. How can I protect my privacy? How silence this noise that bellows round my silence? How can I stop these write-ups, photographs and all the fantastic rumours which invade my silence and prevent me from getting on calmly with my work? I have an unhappy and inexplic able faculty of creating a detestable tumult round my own head, which the journalists increase every day, thinking in all good faith that they are doing me a peculiar favour. Shall I always have to put up with either extreme fulsome praise or personal insults? And be the centre of a legend that devours me and cuts across my work?
Friday, November the 2nd. Came back to the Palais-Royal yesterday evening. Paul and Jeannot fetched me in a car. I thought I was quite wrong. But as soon as I got outside I found I was unsteady on my legs. There was an absolute mountain of 124
letters at my flat. They'll never get answered. I couldn't write a line yesterday evening, but started this diary again today, Friday, 2 p.m. The barber's just shaved me. Page 108
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM He'll be back at six to wash and cut my hair. The in surance company insist that I work tomorrow. They must be crazy. I'll try and start filming again on Tuesday though the doctors at the Institute ordered me a fortnight in the country. Must hold out somehow.
Saturday, November the 3rd. Telephone calls from agents, the company, and in surance people. The doctor's been. He said: 'A month in the mountains would cure you for certain. If that's im possible, don't go at all, for two or three days or even a week wouldn't do any good. You might just as well start work straight away as you have arranged.' And there I agree with him. So I will leave the unit to work alone on Monday, and do some work with Marcel Andre and Josette. (We can so some odd shots which will come in useful for the montage.) Shall go back to Saint-Maurice on Tuesday and start on Beauty's room. Spent the morning answering the phone, walking in the Palais-Royal, receiving innumerable visitors, and have this way exhausted myself deliberately to see if I could stand up to it. I held out until eight o'clock (and then dined opposite). My face still itches but I dare say that's only because the skin's healing and not due to any new trouble. At any rate, I hope so ; but shall soon find out at Joinville. However, I shall risk it, whatever the cost. i xaj
It's one thing to fall back on the insurance, but quite another to leave all these people in the lurch. Iberia came this morning. She says she is going to look after me: make me sit down and rest occasionally, which will be very odd. But she needn't worry, the doctors will watch me and I will keep strictly to my diet. Page 109
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Must be careful that worrying about a relapse doesn't cause one. As I can't have the mountain air, shall have to find some inner freshness. Have just remembered something strange which happened when we were going to Arcachon Bay. Fate tried to stop us. Everything got in our way, impeded us and tried to prevent our leaving. I grew impatient. And accepted General Corniglion's offer of his aeroplane. The pilot nearly killed us all at La Rochelle ; that was the first obstacle fate put up. Then, after days of waiting, dis couraged, in a swamp infested with mosquitoes and diphtheria, the camp commandant found us the car in which we proceeded to the port with one breakdown after another. I thought we would be blown up by a mine at any moment. But it wasn't a mine that threatened us ; fate was trying to keep us from the sunstroke and fatal mosquitoes of that grey dish of a harbour which was surrounded by dustbins the fishermen used to empty their filth just behind our hut. I realized then that all the miseries that now over whelm me were caught there.
Monday the 5tA, 11 a.m. Far too many people yesterday. Went for a stroll in the Palais-Royal. Tired out. At five o'clock my eyes began 126
to swell up the nettle-rash flared up on my face again. Darbon telephoned from Joinville this morning, I have made them start without me, and do Marcel Andre in the fog and Josette's faint. Gave precise instructions to Iberia, Clement and Lucile. Clement brought me the negative of the stag. It isn't bad to the eye. Will see what Page 110
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM it's like on the screen. Radio Monte-Carlo came to re cord in my room here ten minutes ago.
Monday evening. Clement phones me as they go along from shot to shot. Aramis without his groom kicked and plunged and has smashed the set. Josette won't ride him. My nettle-rash isn't so bad today. Darbon is worried because I'm starting work again but I'm determined to start tomorrow. The car is to fetch me at 8.30
Tuesday the 6th, 8 a.m. Colette, whom I dropped in on yesterday, is suffering from lumbago. Told me of an article in an American scientific magazine brought by the Polignacs. In it the American scientists apologize for letting loose carbuncles and skin diseases over the whole face of the globe as a direct result of their atomic researches. Perhaps I am a victim of this; as I was years ago, when I fell in the 127
rue d'Anjou at the exact moment when there was an earthquake in Japan, as Claudel told me afterwardsStarted work again on the film. Am as excited as a child at Christmas. I woke up too early, got up too early; I couldn't keep still at all.
Tuesday, 1O p.m. Page 111
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Felt very happy and excited going to Saint-Maurice again. There's nothing so good as the feeling of being able to write a poem with people, faces, hands, lights, and things that one can put exactly where one wants them. The whole unit feted me. Brought me chairs, rugs, etc. I worked easily and well. Soon found the right move ments for the actors and positions for the camera with out much difficulty. And they obeyed the slightest pres sure from this invisible thread which I held between my fingers. We were doing the sequel to Beauty's room. She is timidly putting on her grand court dress again with her crown and veil, as though to convince herself that it, hadn't all been a dream. She admires herself in the dressing-table glass and is bathed in a supernatural light, which fades as she turns round, hearing the latch lift on the door. Her sisters come in. They throw the silver mirror on the bed, and go out. Beauty picks the mirror up, pressing her cheek sensuously against it and then props it up against the candlesticks, and lies down on the bed gazing into the one proof of her adventures. Before I did this sequence, I had previously done the scene where the sisters, having just rubbed their eyes with onions, sob and beg her not to go away again. 128
Saw the run through of the stag at midday. The shot of the animal lying down, as though in still-life, dappled like leaves, before it springs up and bounds away, has come off marvellously. At 6.30 I saw yesterday's rushes which Clement des cribed to me over the phone when they were doing it. Marcel Andre in the fog. And Josette's cry as she first sees the Beast, and faints. I'm now able to compare the two kinds of stock. There is a world of difference be tween them. My nettle-rash has almost cleared up. Am getting Page 112
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM better.
Wednesday the Jth, J.30 a.m. Marais left at 7.30 to make up for the scene of the Beast weeping into the magic mirror. My eye, which was swollen last night, has now gone down again. The car is to fetch me at 8.30. Hope to finish Beauty's room. If I do, then I'll go on to the Great Hall, and then on to the Sisters' room.
Wednesday the Jth, 1O p.m. I hadn't got nettle-rash after all. Apparently it's eczema, a most tenacious and mysterious thing. The doc tor tries new injections but unfortunately he's concluded that because my whole system is so run-down, I'm now a 129
prey to every illness. Now my teeth are giving me trouble. And I haven't a single minute to get to the dentist. It's terrible to be so young and yet so old. It makes one so unbalanced. From nine o'clock this morning till seven this evening have been working on the stunt shot in Beauty's room. Doing the trick with the mirror, making it reflect two people at once , and Jeanno t and Josette , one after the other . And where it reveals her disappearance and re-appear ance. The stage-hands worked furiously, constructing, demolishing, driving nails in and pulling nails out. When ever I'm in the projection room I can't help wondering how such scenes, which look so brilliant and fresh, can ever come out of a place like this, .where we work covered in dust, and frozen to the marrow. Went to Page 113
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM sleep on my feet at Saint-Maurice, then went home and slept in bed. That's how I like to work. But I'm terrified now of waking up with some new pain.
Thursday the 8th, 10 p.m. Doctor D. came to the studio to watch us filming and has now come to the conclusion that most of the trouble on my face is due to artificial sunstroke caused by the arcs. Which may be so, for I had just the same kind of inflammation under my eye eight years ago, when I had real sunstroke at Samois. When studio-hands get the same trouble they ap parently cure it by rubbing grated raw potato on their faces. It's raining. Shoot the hall scene when the im130
portant guests are received by the merchant. Escoffier has grouped them round the table very well, like 'The Anatomy Lesson'. Shoot the father's entrance with the guests, as seen by Beauty from the sisters 5 room. And the one which precedes it taken from above the banisters, between the landing and the staircase. This afternoon, I ran what would have been five shots into one. It makes it difficult for Tiquet but I like making the actors move with the camera rushing from one to the other whenever it's possible. I'd hoped to be through by now but at 7.30 I'm still at it and Marcel Andre has to run off to his theatre. Only one shot left to do. Will have to leave it till tomorrow morning. (It will be an awful day. The draper in the cup board.)
Friday the $th, J a.m. Page 114
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM My left eye has swollen up again during the night. Faguet, Mila's doctor, took some tests yesterday from the scabs on my hand and forehead, to examine them at the Institute to see whether they aren't the kind of sore which only iodine can cure. Doctor Dumas and his wife were overwhelmed by Saint-Maurice. People who have never been to a Studio before are astonished at all its tumult ; where scaffoldings are put up in five minutes, and at these ghostly sets thrown up to suit camera angles (with the cast's over coats sprawling in the wings) and where vast banks of lights seem to cancel each other out, but end up on the screen as ordinary sunlight or moonlight.
The more the dresses get crumpled and torn, the more they seem to come alive. At first an actress hardly dare move in them, but later, she finds she can move with ease in the heaviest sleeve, the stiffened collar and the largest train. It's all a matter of getting used to it. And these details which worry the continuity girl so much don't matter. I never hesitate to shift the furniture around either. It's difficult enough in ordinary life to rememher where a thing was precisely. Even more so on the screen. Choose the shots of the forest. The whole thing is most strange quite in the style of Perrault. It's as well to give oneself a few days grace before selecting the takes ; for if you do it immediately after shooting, your mind is hypnotized by the most absurd details . The best of films is that it's all a card trick done in front of the audience without letting them see what's up one's sleeve. At the same time that nature has given us nerves to suffer from, it has given us an intelligence with which we can overcome our suffering. This struggle against suffer ing interests me almost as much as the films. Page 115
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Saturday the lOth t p p.m. I'm not saying the work's good who can? But since yesterday morning I've been working hard. Every thing came easily and fell into place. My eye didn't worry me; I didn't even feel tired. Everybody actors, cameramen, electricians, were all lifted by a single wing which seemed to come from my heart. We were doing 132
the comic scene where Marais and Auclair imitate the sisters in the Hall after they've shut the draper up in a cupboard. First of all I did some shots of the draper in side, lighting him by a mere slit so that his eye, nose and mouth were only just visible. Tackled the Ludovic Avenant farce this morning. Fixed a rail up from the ground to the landing so that the camera follows them up and down. After lunch (with Berard, Boris, MarieLouise, Bousquet and an American journalist) I took the rail down and fixed another up so that when the camera reached the top, it could turn and take the whole room in one sweep. With this gadget I can shoot the boys' sequence in one go when they take off their sisters, snatching up a tapestry to use as a train, and this dodge also allows me to use Mila's and Nane's actual voices to double for the boys when the latter are supposed to be imitating them. This way I telescoped what would have been a dozen shots into four. I hadn't time for the last. But, even so, have got eleven in the can. Will do the twelfth on Monday morning before starting on the sisters' room.
Monday the 12th, S a.m. Spent Sunday going over the montage in my head Page 116
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM right from the beginning. In my opinion the more one plays around with time and space in films the better. There is no need for the arrow shot to be realistic. I will show the little dog on the cushion before the arrow lands, as if the audience were in the room waiting for it to arrive after they have just seen it leave the bow. 133
Ill focus on Jeannot's hand after he's pushed and will give another second more of Nane climbing on the chair. Claude's first montage is far too realistic too far from creative writing. Example: in Hugo, Claude Frollo is pushed from the top of Notre-Dame by Quasimodo. Another chapter begins: 'Falls from such heights are rarely perpendicular. The archdeacon . . .' Let's hope we have some luck this afternoon! I'd like to make the scene where Beauty and Avenant are seen for the first time very beautiful. So far they've only been seen from behind.
Monday evening, 1O o'clock. Everything went well. Just as one imagined it; every thing, including the lights, the linen in front of the chimney, even the artists were in their right places. Run through of the important guests' scene and the be ginning of the draper farce. It was run direct without filter. It's not bad but what faults there are come as re lief. It was as if I were looking at Mozart's music of which the slightest detail stands out well in isolation, and the whole movement is entirely admirable. Visually it resembles the Magic Flute overture.
Tuesday the 1 3th, 7.0 a.m. Page 117
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Tried to eat some fish and was taken ill immediately. My eyes puffed up again and the irritation returned, 134
1 Thanks to Antergan you can eat whatever you fancy', Doctor N. had said. Money, of no consequence in itself, is the very anchor of films. For only the fear of losing it drives the producers to give us what we need with such alacrity and exactitude. If it weren't for money, the car would be hours late when it fetched us, and the stage-hands would fritter their time away. Sets would remains half-built, and things wanted would not, as they do now, fly of their own volition into one's hands. Am writing this waiting for the car. The current's gone off. I light a candle. These cuts will put us behind. The actor's won't be able to see well enough to makeup. My schedule will be all behind by the time I get there. And quite apart from that a cut like this could ruin it entirely now a large part of the film's at the labs. I've been driven into myself for the last five years, paralysed by a hostile atmosphere ; and have found myself in that dangerous state of being full of hate. My gift of being able to improvise in front of an audience left me. But I find gradually that I can relax again. When I have a problem I still solve it only when I'm alone in my room, but one day I may be able to work with an audience again. I wonder if I shall? Raising my eyes (I have my notebook on my knee), I've just caught sight of one of those accidental effects which one's always straining after in one's work. The candle reflected in the glass covering the Antinoe mask makes its left temple look hollowed out, and gives the curl of the hair and the beard the appearance of a white wound. The flame is very high and seems to come from the very centre of its spirit. And the enamelled surface Page 118
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM shines and reflects the flame which seems to burn be-
hind the mask itself. This optical phenomenon looks al most supernatural. I spent two hours yesterday going over the scene where Josette sees her reflection in the floor she's polishing, as Jeannot's hand comes into the picture to retrieve the arrow. To control chance. That's what our work entails.
Tuesday evening, 1O o'clock. I'm absolutely disfigured and devoured hy these rashes on my eyes and cheeks. It seems incredible to me that 1 go on working; and what's more, that people can put up with me, and even seem to like me in spite of it. Tele scoped another six shots into one, thanks very much to Tiquet's suppleness and precision with his camera; any body would think it had wings and could go up or down, whenever he wished. (Jeannot, Josette and Michel's scene in the sisters' room.) People who come to the studio for the first time are astonished at its chaos, at all the clutter littered over the set, and they wonder how one can get in a scene only a few feet from a crowd of technicians and cameras. But once projected, such scenes can be viewed in quite a detached manner, and the smallest fault appears monstrous. We shall film down stairs this afternoon, and do the chest scene, the usurer removing the furniture with the bailiffs. As soon as the film gets off its main theme, and away from the leading characters, the rhythm seems to go wrong and it re quires an incredible effort to get back again. I arranged a 136 Page 119
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM scene from one angle and find that I am directing it from a place that has nothing to do with the cameraangle. From 2.30 to 6.30 I did nothing but stand on a high gallery, similar to the one at the Hotel de Bourgoyne, watching the Russian actor who's supposed to be playing the usurer. He can't even move, let alone talk. He looked the part all right; but for the rest, he's ab solutely hopeless. If these shots of him turn out as bad as they play, I'll double the part myself. I must hold on.
Thursday evening, 1 1 o'clock. Couldn't write yesterday. Too exhausted, what with a late run-through coming on top of a full day's shooting. Alekan's improved enormously; especially on the closeup work of the actors . As the stuff we shot first will come last, he'll be at his best at the beginning of the film; and perhaps the difference in quality which I notice won't be conspicuous. The current went off seven times today. Practically nothing was done. And nothing is quite so demoralizing than Saint-Maurice when everything is turned off and cold, with a few technicians crawling over the sets holding candles. Berard, with only the property man to help him and entirely by candle-light, designed and cut out the statue of Diana which shoots the arrow, killing Avenant, and draped it over some young woman he's discovered. Have finished the great hall. Have still got a shot to do in the sisters' room, from another angle (Josette Day is laid up with gastric 'flu and confined to her room for a 137
week, so I shall have to do something else.) Tomorrow shall go on to the fanlight of Diana's Pavilion. It looks an Page 120
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM absolute conservatory of ivy, under its covering of snow.
Saturday evening the IJth, 11 o'clock* So many different things have turned up these last two days that I've been too busy to record them. Have done the shot of the boys arriving at the Pavilion (taken it from below and above). Did the high shots first from inside this square tower, which is covered with white ivy outside, and dark ivy inside. Without doubt this tricky set is Berard at his best. The way I get this man, who flames with disorder yet has the precision of a maniac, to work is by anticipating him. I first show him a mediocre set, he looks des pondently at it, then gets excited, alters it, and in a few minutes produces exactly what I was looking for. The exterior of the Pavilion surpasses my wildest hopes. It is absolutely pure Gustave Dore as in Perrault's illustra tions. (C.f. the Prince arriving at the Sleeping Beauty's Castle.) When the boys climb the iron ladder and peep through the roof, it looks exactly that style, with the glasswork shining like diamonds and the ivy throwing shadows on to them. The acanthus on the walls will link up with the one at Raray. I am nearly half-way through the film. Avenant has just been hit by the white arrow in his back although it's not yet five o'clock. Marais swings in space hanging on to Ludovic's hands. It's an enormous effort to keep this pose. An archer up on the 138
boom aims at his back, which is protected by a mail shirt and a cork pad underneath. The archer was shooting straight at him as he refused to shoot up at an angle as he thought that would be too dangerous. But Marais insisted he should try. So he did. The arrow hit the mail and glanced off, grazing the back of Marais' s neck. The Page 121
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM archer was afraid he might even transfix him. I wanted to stop the whole thing. But Marais then found a way of sloping his back towards us and this time the arrow planted itself in the exact position. At every attempt those watching turned away, as they were all convinced that they'd see Marais killed. In the previous shot he is supposed just to break the glass with a kick, then finally lose his temper and thrust his bow through the last pane. He doesn't speak till the whole pane is smashed. The first time we tried it, the glass didn't break enough. The next time it flew at the camera and the third time Marais forgot his lines. But the fourth was all right. But between each attempt, Property had to put new glass in the frame, and nail up the ivy again which delay for such a short scene ends by our only doing four sequences. I shall have to stop after we've done the close-up of the hands changing into the Beast's, as Ludovic lets him fall.
Monday, 12 to 8 o'clock. Berard will place the statue of Diana in the morning; it will stand in the snow with the treasures lying around its base. Diana's bow will not have a string. Though when she draws the arrow back it will look as if the bow is
being bent. You won't see her actually shoot. But just see the arrow piercing Avenant's back (which we've already taken), which will be followed by his fall in the snow (with the Beast's face and hands). Have seen some rough cuts of the montage. This is an awkward stage. For I am accustomed to seeing the same takes four or five times consecutively as in the run through, and now, in a cut copy, everything seems to be happening far too quickly. I must get used to this stage in the work and get a slowness into what seems so brief. To do this I must wait till I can see more objectively, when I've forgotten all the personal associations which Page 122
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM are attached to each picture. When the film's shot, Iberia, Jacques Lebreton and I will have all the work of the mixings to do. Haven't seen any rushes these last few days as the labs have closed down completely because the electricity is so frequently being cut off. Which is just as well for I tremble to think what would happen if the negatives got mixed there for we could never take any of it again.
Monday the igth, 11 p.m. Was taken by force yesterday: driven off to see Dejobert about the lithographs which I know I shall never be able to finish (the Deux Travestis: Fantdme de Marseille and the Numero Barbette). Got on so quickly that I had finished my stone before D's son had done the frames. I wanted to get home to go to bed. But out of luck. Friends came in and it was the only day I could see them. 140
Got to the studio at 10.30 this morning. Berard working on the snow set and doing Doudou's make-up. She is a Creole who loathes this cold and I don't blame her. Decided to do the same thing in this scene as I did in Sang d'un Poete. That is, dress the actors at the last minute with anything that comes to hand. But un fortunately, it's very difficult to do that with a film of this scope. Alekan is very worried about the lighting in this small box set which, though it has height enough, has no space for the camera recoil. In order that Ara can go on with the make-up I insist on doing a close-up of Michel looking frightened to match up with the Beast's transformation into Avenant. They lead Doudou on to the set as she can't see: her own eyes are covered by the statue's false ones. Carrier Page 123
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM carries her. She is freezing cold: her skin like gooseflesh. The lamps gradually warm her up. Alekan is try ing to make the treasure shine. Doudou didn't get to bed till seven this morning. She had no idea what routine film work requires. I can see she's determined to hold out although she's half asleep. We get the gear into position using a stand-in draped in linen. Finally, when we're ready to shoot, Doudou is carried on to her pedestal again. Now the resistances have all burnt out. Doudou refuses to get off her throne again. We make her comfortable with cushions. I'm afraid she's going to faint. Berard gets excited and starts shouting.. We repair the resistances. I climb the ladder fifty times. At last all's ready. We shoot. Now, as a last straw, the down which we use for snow starts falling into poor Diana's blind eyes. 'That's torn it/ I thought to myself, 'she won't work any more, she'll just walk out on us.' But, strangely, it K 141
seemed to make her more determined to go on. Brought the camera down, and fixed its rail in the snow. We got as far as doing where Diana raises her head and shoots the arrow. It's a difficult thing for her to do because she can't see and can only guess at the direction. Two takes were, I thought, all right. But everything depends on how the eyes and the material we used for the statue turn out on the screen. However, to our surprise, Doudou has offered to go through the whole of this devilish scene again if the run through isn't a success. Watching her exhausted me. Didn't recover till about seven o'clock. It was too much to ask her to stand in position until Avenant breaks through the glass. Shall use a double for that. Shall manage somehow. If we show just her shoulders, her legs and the bow, it will probably pass. Page 124
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Shall do this tomorrow morning and also Jeannot falling transfixed by the arrow. After that will tackle the terrace at the Beast's Castle which the carpenters and painters are now finishing. I'll have to use the crane for that. The problem was how to deal with Doudou 's hair. Marais suggested that we should use his Pontet wig (the one he wears as the Prince) as he's decided to dye his own hair for the part. It fits her beautifully. We shall only have to plaster it with Bavox.
Tuesday the 2Oth, J a.m. If I'm ever well enough to make a colour film in Prague as Paulv wants me to, I've found a first-class subject. 142
Had awful trouble with my eyes the other night as the arcs had strained them. I worked out the stunt of the Beast's metamorphosis into Avenant. But shan't do it yet because we haven't got two Pontet masks. It's going to be difficult for Marais for he's got to keep his position to a fraction of an inch yet, at the same time, register terror. Shall do it by taking several short shots as the hairs appear on his forehead. I suppose it's cheating. I'll make one eye up then place the tusks in position. Then I'll cut the mask into strips which I'll stick on one by one as though each part were a stab of lightning. Then, when we accelerate this jigsaw, it will look as if his whole face is being changed into the Beast's by a rain of blows.
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Wednesday evening, 11 o'clock. A mixed day yesterday. At midday saw a run-through of the exteriors of Diana's Pavilion exactly as I'd hoped they'd be. At six I saw another which had turned out precisely as I feared it might. The inside of Diana's Pavilion. The treasure doesn't shine. Diana aims badly and her eyes look all wrong in the close-ups. These two shots ruin the whole thing for me. Between the pro jections I had shot Avenant' s fall with the Beast's head and also the shot of his climbing through the smashed window, with the back of Diana's head just in the picture. An extra stood in for Doudou. She was a beautiful, robust, simple girl. Went to the doctor, He says I am much better in spite of still being miserably thin and tired. Have been 143
off sugar. He says I can go back to it again. Go home, sleep badly and think of a way of doing the montage so that I can do without the shot of Diana aiming. It'll be far more impressive if one sees only her head and the beginning of her movement. Will cut just before the close-up. As to the treasure, will have a talk with the stunt girl and make her find some way of getting these precious gems to twinkle. Which I did as soon as I got to Saint-Maurice and then went and had a look at the takes of Diana with Claude. Afterwards I tackled the stalls scene to match up with the stuff I'd done at Rochecorbon. That is, where the sister's rub their eyes with onions before going up to cry to Beauty, and where Avenant and Ludovic come in before they eventually ride off on Magnificent. Working in these sets which are reconstructions of places where we have actually been, I find myself going instinctively towards a door as though it will lead me into the manor. Then I wake up with a bang. Page 126
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Telescope five shots into one. Looks as if I can just do the rest (by running two shots into one). But un fortunately, Marais stumbles over a line, and as often happens with the best actor, he fluffs a dozen times on the same phrase. And this disaster is bedevilled by the chickens which Clement has to coax on to a certain definite spot and there convince them with caresses to stay still. At last Marais gets over his obstacle. But now it's Tiquet's turn: he's got his camera all tied up in the cable and can't pan. Probably the best thing to do is to break off and send the artists out for a walk. And after an inter val, have another try at it. Marais manages to get over his obstacle again, but it's six o'clock. Alekan starts 144
fixing up the lighting for the next episode. I break the seance up. Go into the auditorum where Clement is dubbing Rail. A babble of German, The picture is projected over and over again. The cast, following the lip movements, give voice to the phantoms before them. The studio dust has got into my eyes. Go home to the Palais-Royal.
Thursday evening, 10 o'clock. Did the scene this morning where Marais goes to the stable door and sticks his head out. When he did this at Rochecorbon, the interior was far too dark and didn't match up. Still start with the Rochecorbon close-up. We saddled Aramis after lunch and sprinkled 'Angel's hair' over his mane and tail. Tackled the scene which links up the one where Marais turns the horse in the court yard and backs into the stable. Do the bit where he mounts. Could not do any more as we had a breakdown. Page 127
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Which is just as well because I've just thought of an idea that will simplify the scene where Ludovic takes the bows down. In fact I'll have Felicie take the bows down and bring them, to him. She'll then be ready for the mirror scene. And Adelaide will only have to enter from the right as Ludovic goes behind Avenant. Which will show the sisters' heads and shoulders and the boys' hands and legs, (as already seen). Ib&ria has shown me the Touraine take of Aramis rearing. Unfortunately it's no use. It's too short and badly placed. We'll have to make him rear tomorrow and have someone handy at his rump in case
he refuses. Prospect of endless difficulties. But somehow or other each shot gets snatched from the void. None are easy. It's all patience and effort and it's all dust, plaster and straw. I found it impossible to shave myself this morning as the current's off from seven to eight. So I took my electric razor to the studio and I'll shave when I get a chance. Clement, who is still dubbing Rail, sleeps in Josette's dressing room at Saint- Maurice. I will join him there to morrow. The rushes of Diana's Pavilion are magnificent. I can now cut the sequence except for the Avenant-Beast stunt which I shan't do until the last.
Friday the 2 3rd, 9 o'clock. This morning the current went off at the Palais-Royal and I had to dress by candle light, and I dare say we shall get several cuts at the studio. Aramis is very nervous. He spent the night in his box at Joinville. Thanks to yester day's breakdown I now manage to do the mirror and bow scene as planned. Nane's very frightened of the horse. Page 128
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Lunch. S. and another Gaumont director came to see a run-through of several scenes. This was all very import ant as we've gone over our estimates and Paulve has to arrange for Gaumont to share a higher percentage of our costs. Everything went very well. Darbon's relief shows in his extraordinary kindness. Berard doesn't like the way the great door at the castle has been shot. So Darbon 146
actually offers to do them again (which is a unique , ges ture in the history of film producers). Berard hurries to rearrange the set and the shots will be done tomorrow morning. Do the stable scene. With the camera fixed up on a high crane behind the horse focusing on the boys' backs and on Mila as she opens the door. Will keep Josette on Aramis up my sleeve until we get a breakdown and can't do anything else. The unit breaks up. Some curl up in troughs in the stable, others wander in the court yard. Find Berard with Carre. He's dealing with the candelabras for the great hall. Escoffier brings the boys out to the dressing-room door one by one as he manages to dress them with whatever he can lay his hands on. Berard joins us and touches them up. It's absolutely incredible watching him create Le Nains and Peter de Hoochs in a few minutes without a single basic costume to go on. It's a mystery which the audience won't appreciate because they're used to hired costumes with their studied, false likenesses. Go back to the set. It doesn't seem so real as it was when lit by candles and now we have the job of getting that quality again, with the arcs. Alekan gets busy on it. Josette's very brave. She's frightened of Aramis because of Mila's ac cident in, Touraine and a fall she had herself some time ago. But I must have a shot of her on the horse and, what's more, pressing her face to its mane so that I can get away with the rest with a double. Had to do this four times be fore we could get the moon on their profiles, Aramis's mane sparkling like threads of silver and Josette^coming Page 129
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM in from the left whispering the fairy words 'Go where I go, Magnificent, Go ! go ! go ! 'Lucile will do the doubling tomorrow and will complete Josette's movement of straightening up on the horse as it trots off. 147
If Marais makes Aramis rear tomorrow we shall then find we are shooting at the studio roof so I order beams, planks and straw to make a loft. Michel can't be looking forward to this scene after what happened to him in Touraine, Marais assures me it will be all right. Certainly, Michel is so level-headed, charming and gay it won't be easy to upset him. Everybody who comes here is utterly amazed at our unit's freshness. They tell me that this sort of thing is extraordinarily rare. I wonder why. It must be hell working surrounded by bad temper, rows and martyr dom. It was the same when we made V Eternal Retour. The only thing that worries us is that we shan't be able to go on working together when the film's finished. I shall miss everybody including the stage-hands. I don't know how I shall face the boredom when it's all over, when nobody says 'Good morning, General' as they do now when I reach the studio.
Saturday the 24th, 9 o'clock. A bad day. Did a retake of the Chateau door. But the decor wasn't ready till eleven owing to yesterday's breakdown. Which delay threw my whole schedule out; nevertheless, hope to finish the stable. Made the script girl double for Josette. The horse left the stable without any go, any fire in it so I dressed Aramis's groom up as Josette and then managed to pull off what Corneille calls 'caracole'. The time's getting on. Alekan's nervous. Persuade Darbon to order Aramis again for Monday Page 130
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM morning.
In between shots, I took Bresson and Elina to see the decor of the great hall where Berard is dealing with the stunt where the real human faces are framed in the carvings round the chimney piece. Went to the labs in the evening and saw the silent pictures of the stable. They're all right. Alekan has man aged to get a sort of supernatural quality within the limits of realism ; which is the reality of childhood. The fairyland without fairies. Fairyland in the kitchen.
Monday the 26th , 10 o'clock. Have already admitted that I thought it was only just chat since I've made Marais cover his face and hands with glue and hair I should suffer similar miseries. I suppose this is an example of the writer's responsibility which Sartre talks about. He's quite right. At any rate, I can claim to be a race apart from those writers who hide behind their desks. And just as Marais is shot at the end of the film with an arrow so am I wounded by these cruel shafts from the arcs which burn my eyes and bring my forehead and cheeks out in this painful rash. It's unbear able this evening. Shot Josette's double on the horse this morning and then to finish the scene tried to make the horse rear. To make sure of getting it, I had two cameras shooting from two different angles. The horse refused three times in succession. So being superstitious, I left the set where upon Marais suddenly remembers how to do the trick pressing with his knees and gently pulling the bit. The horse stops clear and then, as he can't go backwards any 149 Page 131
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM further, rears up. Waited outside till the red light went out and then returned to find they'd got the shot in the can. Have a run through of the stuff I saw yesterday with the sound now added. Lebreton's done a good job and got both gentleness and strength into the voices. Berard is dressing or rather I should say disguising the tavern people. After lunch, grouped them on the set in one corner on the steps behind the table. Light the gambier pipes (clay pipes). Distribute Chinese cards. Alekan lights it. Hang bunches of onions on the wall, and then show the players their business. Rehearsal. Shoot it. Pan the camera one man smoking, another in a great coat, then on to a little girl with her hands folded over her tummy and finally focus on the table where they're playing cards. All the people in the scenes know each other and not one of them looks like a walk-on. It's most convincing. More convincing than reality. Truer than truth. Finish up with the usurers' scene with Avenant and Ludovic. Time on our heels. Actors fluff their lines. Now we're over the time. Everybody immediately relaxes. The scene falls together and even a cat wanders through as if it were at home.
Tuesday the 2Jth, 11 o'clock. Terrible eye-ache. My eyes are all red and swollen again. Can hardly open them. An effort to work. A stage hand's brought me a pair of glasses, which ease my eyes but don't protect them from the arcs. Tiquet is going to bring his tomorrow which will do this.
Shot the tavern with all the lascars whom B6rard had Page 132
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM disguised. It's like a group by Le Nain. The trouble with me is I'm naive. What I ought to do is to cut the scenes up into innumerable shots and then take several in one go. The script girl would then make a note that, say, twelve shots had been taken. And this way the producers would be more than satisfied. Have done the draper's final scene (the one which ends with the watch in the Beast's mirror) in one take. Run through of stable sequence. It's quiet with plenty of con trast to it and quite striking. The shot of Beauty leaning on Magnificent's neck looks like a drawing of me!
Wednesday the 28th, 8 a.m. Awful night. My skin seems like hairy leather. My dreams are becoming confused with my pain. The itch becomes matted with the horse's mane. Try to part it. Scratch myself. Wake up tortured. Am waiting in the car. The great black hall set isn't ready. So will do the Beauty-Avenant scene which we missed in Touraine and the one of Josette doing Mila's hair.
Wednesday, 9 p.m. Thanks to Tiquet and the stage-hand's glasses with bits of black cardboard shoved in at the sides, my eyes are no longer inflamed. As the hall won't be ready until to-
morrow (and then won't have the amis, for Berard is having the linen that drapes them all remodelled). I've only got two shots to do. Page 133
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Started a retake of the Touraine shot which I didn't like of Josette-Jeannot which follows the scene where Beauty leaves the sisters at dinner. The new arc crackles. Had to take the scene seven times. (Overtime from 12.30 midday.) Jourdan, Kique, Sologne came to see us. Busied myself after lunch pre paring the Mila-Josette scene with the black decor which Berard is now working on. For the former it was a question of taking the glass out of the coral mirror which we hired from Serge Roche and placing a camera behind it so that we could shoot Mila when she looks into it as though it were a mirror. After which, the cameras rise to Josette who says *I no longer dare'. This mirror cost a fortune. I unscrewed it and found a sheet of wood be hind. I cut this on a circular saw in the carpenter's. When we put the mirror together again, there'll be no reflection. Awfully difficult shot. Hang the mirror up with invisible thread. Fix the block. Finally Mila gets in to position behind the frame and Alekan deals with the lights. Which trapeze act takes so long that once again I am near the time limit. Have only nine minutes left. Aeroplanes. Load the cameras again. Now I've five min utes. Terrified of another breakdown to interrupt us. At last we're through. Have asked Lebreton and Bouboule to record Felicie's voice behind glass so as to give the audience the impression that they are the mirror. And at the same time get Beauty in a corresponding position. Showed the beginning of the film to Sologne, Schlosberg, Loulou. But it wasn't their excessive kindness, nor the praise from the Metro-Goldwyn people which gave
me the most pleasure, but one of the theatre cleaners who said to Bouboule: 'That's what I call a film/ V Eternal Retour has just won the prize at the International Congress in Belgium. Good run through of the stable stuff, the retakes of the doors and the beginning of the mirror scene (with Page 134
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM the usurer and the card game). Shall tackle the great hall set tomorrow.
Friday the 3Oth, 1O p.m. Was just going to write these notes in bed when the current went off again for the fifth time since this morn ing. The same thing and tiredness prevented me from keep ing this diary yesterday. It has been an exhausting and uninteresting day. Couldn't shoot at all. It had taken too long to get under way with the black set. What with getting the boys' heads to stand behind the sculpture and painting them with Bavox. On top of all this the scaffold ing and microphones had to be fixed up. At six o'clock took two tests. One on Kodak and the other on Agfa. Marcel Andre had been made up ever since the morning but didn't complain as he's so passionately interested in everything. The labs developed them last night and we saw the results this morning at nine. From which it's plain the Agfa's black is more supple and its white more crisp. The set will look magnificent provided we don't light the angles and leave the shape of the hall undefined, only
making the sculpture stand out in relief (This proves that Clement, Alekan and Tiquet were, pessimists.) Having seen this test well now make a start on this huge set; that is, if the Power Station will permit it. Just as 1 wrote that word, the lights have come on again. And with that one, they've gone off again. We're working surrounded by a crowd of American visitors who, perched on a most precarious lot of steps, seem fascinated by the stunts. Page 135
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM The kids who play the stone heads are incredibly patient. For they've got most uncomfortable positions, having to kneel behind the set with their shoulders fixed in a sort of armour of plastic and resting their hair which is all gummed and bepowdered against the pillar with the arc lamps full in their faces. The effect is so intensely magical that I wonder if the camera can possibly get it. These heads are alive, they look, they breathe smoke from their nostrils, they turn following the artists who are unaware they are being watched. Perhaps as objects which surround us behave, taking advantage of the fact that we believe them to be immobile. Shoot the merchant's arrival (except for the candelabra which I'll do tomorrow). The fire flames up. The clock strikes. The table's laid, covered with plates, jugs and glasses all in the style of Gustave Dore. The whole bordering on the macabre (like the Gare de Lyon). From a centre-piece heaped with ivy, pat6 and fruit a living arm appears to grasp the candlestick. Do close-ups of the statue watching this scene. And the one where the arm puts the candlestick down and picks the jug up. Do a shot of it pouring. (Which I will cut to a close-up of Marcel looking terrified.) Time's up. Disperse. Darbon is worried that the film isn't going to be long i4
enough. I'll take advantage of this and make it longer, by emphasizing strange details which will underline the un easy atmosphere. Aldo and some reporters want me to take my glasses off so that they can photograph me beside these living statues. The arcs seize the opportunity and stab me in the eyes. They swell up immediately. After doing several takes of the heads, I run off for a few minutes as I often do, leaving Clement to carry on alone. He and his wife, Bella, are wonderful people. Whilst Clement directs the head movements, Iberia takes me off to choose the first shots of Diana's Pavilion. Page 136
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM At seven we were shown the end of the film. Thanks to Alekan, Tiquet, Berard, Michel, Marais (who's ab solutely first-rate in the scene near the^ table) and to everyone else, this sequence has turned out enchanting. Roger Hubert has received a fat bonus from Paulve as our prize from Belgium. Sologne and Marais may possibly go to Brussels tomorrow morning.
Saturday evening, December the 1st, 1945. How ever much I may shut myself up in my own private world, it's impossible for me not to be interested in the Nuremburg trial. One can't help hearing Goering's mad laugh as he slaps his thighs . . . and then suddenly everything is dark except for the accused who are picked out with ghostly spots focused on their faces as they're shown the film of the German atrocities. And now those who allowed or ordered these horrors from afar *$$
are made to see it all; and, as they do, they themselves become decomposed. After the film, Goering looked like a very old, sick woman. Worked with Berard on the black decor from 9 a.m. till 6 p.m. without a break. I'm deliberately allowing myself the luxury of lingering over details for I've noticed from the rushes that the film moves almost as quickly as Les Enjants Tembks and Thomas Vlmposteur. I must make the sequence in the Beast's castle more re laxed and isolated so as to give some relief to the rest. Have come to the conclusion that Alekan's lighting on the statue heads was too bright and it's that which makes them look too human. Have started to do it again, Page 137
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM having first plastered their heads with dark paint to make them appear lit by the fire. And this also makes their eyes shine and makes them look more in keeping with their surroundings. A magnifying glass on a test shot proves it's now all right. Tiquet says it would be a mistake not to have a shot of the arms holding the candlesticks when Marcel Andre gets up from the table. I think he's right. So have askecl him to get on with it. But the trouble is they are not rigid as in reality they are held by invisible threads. Carre is faking up some black supports which the stage hands are making. These won't be visible with the black wall behind them, and after an hour's delay we again proceed. This forest of lights looks very strange. Clement has made the candles burn brightly thanks to a gadget which somebody blows in the wings. And at last I take the shot which I'd thought I'd never get. At 6.i I did another shot which I thought of when looking at the lion's head carved on the chair arm. I noticed that the merchant's hand was, as it were, sleeping on the lion's ir6
head. When the beast's roar is heard in the distance, it seemed as if the hand woke up and ran away. On Monday I'll do a shot of the candle stumps in the candelabra from which I'll cut to Marcel's fear and do his flight. The arcs have burnt my eyelids again. Burns on top of burns. I'm paying dearly for this film.
Monday-Tuesday 3 o'clock. Two frantic days at full pressure. I wonder who would get as worked up over a film as I do? But it's the only way as is proved by the violent whirlwind of activity, dust and lights which I manage to produce. And it's some Page 138
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM consolation for the interminable waiting, what with candles refusing to go out even under the tempest of the wind machine, and with the extras' restrictive Trade Unionism blocking me at every turn. We'd been over and over the same scene all the morn ing. And were just on the point of getting the right rhythm for the human arms to move their candlesticks and hold them at the correct angle; when, suddenly, everybody left their positions merely because they thought that the take might run over their time by one minute. The run-through consoles me. It's both rich and sensi tive. Lady Diana and Miss Churchill came and lunched with us. Showed them the first part of the film. They were disappointed that they couldn't see it all. (I could see nothing but my own mistakes.)
Nuremburg trial. The two-and-two-make^four's are judging the two-and~two-make-five's or even twenty-two.^ These sickening retakes, with all the paraphernalia of fixing the gear back into position and getting the gadget to blow the candles out again, are tedious in their detail but the effect will be I shall project this sequence backwards as though the candles were being lit one by one by an unseen hand. The only reason why I record all this arrangement and re-arrangement is to show Alekan's, Tiquet's and Clement's patience and the effort everyone in this unit is making. To sit perched up on a pair of steps as I am, and be able to reconcile so many wills and direct so many de tails; quelling disorder and dust; calling for action then, merely because a thread breaks, making everybody do it all over again, shows our unit has a cohesion and an atti tude which is becoming very rare in France. Page 139
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM My face is red and swollen again this evening. My fore head sweats and looks as if it's been varnished. Gr&nillon told Jeannot at Brussels that he'd had the same trouble for months but it suddenly disappeared overnight.
Wednesday evening. Another day snatched from pain, spent in this huge black room from which we emerge looking like chimney sweeps. Charles Trenet, the Marquise, Rosine and her son lunched with us. Did a shot in slow motion this morn ing of Josette coming into the hall under the candelabra. And from lunch onwards did another slow motion of her
going up the grand staircase. We mounted the camera on the big crane and followed her up . Exhaust ourselves putting finishing touches to the set at the last minute. The dust which the rapid motion (to make it appear slow on the screen) throws up may have its own advantages of atmosphere. As Josette goes along the corridor, one of the female figures carved in the top of the stairs turns its head to the right, and its plastered arm lifts the curtain. We made an eighty frame slow motion shot of this. Tomorrow will tackle the scene of Beauty and the Beast round the table. And will do the ensemble before the set's broken up. A run through (backwards) of the candles being lit as though by magic. It looks exactly as though it had been taken straight. Reminds me of M61ies, Robert Houdin or Le Sang d'un Poete. There's plenty of harshness and strangeness in it, and a touch of violence too. I like it better than what I really intended. Thought of a new sequence tonight which I'll put in. It will come before the scene where Beauty sees the Beast drinking. One needs a slow quiet scene there, to Page 140
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM emphasize her courage and, at the same time, stress her simplicity. Place her by the side of the female figure at the top of the stairs and then make her stand behind the bust in her chamber. Here the Beast gives her the pearl necklace which she wears at Epinay and which she hides in the hunting dogs terrace scene.
Thursday evening. Things went well. Did the whole of Beauty's first dinner in the great hall. And the odd shots round the
table in front of the chimney piece, with one of the living statues and a tracking shot of the Beast standing behind Josette's chair as he turns to go. He goes through the arch, turns and closes the iron gate and through it we see him disappearing down the corridor. B6rard was there. He did Josette's head-dress (jet sequins and ostrich feathers) and arranged Jeannot's cloak. Now Jeannot's made up as the Beast again, he's back in the same old mood and refuses to lunch. We in sist and bring him a little minced meat and mashed potatoes. Had a look at the corridor with B6rard and marked out where to put the statues. Also we checked over Beauty's room. Jeannot suggests that we play Les Parents Terribles instead of Renaud et Armlde at Brussels as the latter takes so long to rehearse. He phoned de Bray and Dorziat but there's some difficulty over dates. The boils are doing their best to return. Endless.
Saturday the ptfo. Yesterday did the second table scene. Came very close to my first cut. But did the whole scene in two takes. Will put the close-ups in this morning. Josette was so Page 141
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM tired on Thursday, Alekan was afraid that it would notice. The rushes betray a suspicious diffusion. The labs talk about 'intermediary prints' or some other excuse. In the car, Josette confessed that she was frightened of being photographed too sharp, 160
Her face looked better yesterday so I asked Alekan to return to the hard style which I like. Added a peacock with its feathers to the table. Josette paces up and down in front of the chimney, her movement followed by the Statue's eyes. The camera pans across to the clock, then to the mirror in which you see the Beast's reflection as he comes down the staircase at the back.
Monday morning, J o'clock. Shot by shot I know my way through. Am determined not to give in until I've done what I want to do. I de cided yesterday that Marais should play Les Parents Terribles in Brussels and that Reggiani should continue in Paris while Marais produced Renaud et Armide in Bel gium and Switzerland. Madame Rolle, director of the Theatre du Gymnase phoned to say that Reggiani had signed up for three films and won't be free. Which means a great financial loss for Marais and me. For I don't expect there'll be any other free dates. Feuillere would like to put on Azrael in October after Les Parents. We can work today, tomorrow, and the day after from 7.30 to .30 as the current cuts have been restored. After which we shall have to go back to night work which I prefer. Cold. Twenty-two degrees of frost. Which is a bit worrying as Josette has to wear the Paquin deshabille Berard's coming at midday to do her hair and finish the corridor set. 161 Page 142
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Wednesday i 1 1 a.m. Two days of chaos, as I decided to change the decor, and going from one set to another creates such havoc with moving all the gear, that it looks like a cataclysm. To see a set in ruins is like leaving one's home as a child. Memories of the old set overwhelm us when we're in the new one. And so it goes on. It'll be a very sinister day for us when the film ends. Started this sequence today which I thought of on the night of December jth. Berard has put two busts in the corridor. They are of two Louis XIV Turks in marble. I shall make Beauty hide behind one. of these when she sees the Beast walking in the corridor at night as though in a trance. His hands are smoking and she looks at them for the first time with horror. The Beast has just made a kill. We got the moonlight we were after and the candles look supernatural enough; but unfortunately the runthrough shows that our film stock must be stale and needs even more light. I suppose we must resign our selves to losing a lot of the details which we see when we shoot: perhaps something beautiful will come out, though it'll be in a more sombre Style. Took half a day to get Marais's hands ready. Reminds one of the ritual the Chinese actors go through, I shall go on with the corridor tomorrow. And do Beauty's arrival as she comes up the corridor without moving her feet thanks to a platform which we pull on a string. It was the first rushes from this scene which made Paulve decide to finance us. Marais's birthday. Carpenters, electricians and dressers brought him a bas ket of roses with a card 'To our good Beast'. 162 Page 143
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Thursday the 13th, 6 p.m. We're not yet as bad as those princes of Java who, I hear, rehearsed a dance for five years, but we've been five hours already making up Marais 's head and hands. Am writing this in the make-up room. It's six o'clock. We are shooting at nine. Shooting at night doesn't worry me very much. It's in line with my dislike for conven tions. I'm living at the Hotel du Louvre so my sleep would not be interrupted with phone calls and visitors as it is at the Palais-Royal. We breakfast at six o'clock in the evening and keep to that rhythm for the rest of the night. I came with Marais because I wanted to see if Carre had broken down the statues which stand at the top of the stairs. For you can hardly pick them out on the screen. Which is now taking shape with its net walls, its decor of rocks a la Mantegna, round which brambles and thorns protrude, with its bed shaped like a ship with a boar's head at the prow, with its stone window and iron door, and grass covering its floor all of which gives me plenty of scope. Hope to finish the corridor tonight. And do the magic mirror scene and the one where the Beast carries Beauty in his arms into her room which precedes the scene 'What are you doing in my room at such an hour?' Whilst writing this on the marble-topped table, Marais with Alekan to help him starts on his head and tears the shirt with the padded shoulders (for when he's got his make-up on, his shoulders are out of proportion). Intend to abandon old stock when we do Beauty's room. As it loses detail, it was excellent for the hall scene which we had to keep dark so as to get an oppresive atmoshpere; but when we come to Beauty's room, we 163 Page 144
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM must give plenty of light as contrast to the rest of the castle; and this will all help to underline the Beast's effort to make her comfortable. Night work reminds me of Christmas as a child when I was allowed to stay up late, and of the vigil for the presents and the deep snow with its myriad little lights surrounding the quiet house. Unfortunately the unit find it merely exhausting and a nuisance. I like this factory at Saint-Maurice almost as much as I liked the nursing home at Saint-Cloud where I wrote Opium and Les Enfants Terribles. Green's brought me the proofs of Leviathan. Again I explore the ancient palmarium of Pozzo di Borgo in the moonlight. And saw Elizabeth weaving her linen there. Tonight at Saint-Maurice I wandered alone through uie corridors and sets, some being built, others denolished. I was as though in a dream. This snow reminds ,ne of Christmas as a child: this light, phosphorescent .mow carries me far away. It laid a table in my heart.
Saturday the l$th December. I've never seen a set either in the theatre or in films to appeal as much to me as this one of Beauty's room where I'm working now. The studio-hands like it too. Even the waitresses from the restaurant come and see it and are thrilled to pieces. Td like to hear this room described by Edgar Allen Poe; for it is, as it were, isolated in space with the rem nants of the forest set on one side, and the beginnings of the stream set on the other. With the result that 164
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM bushes can be seen through its walls of net, suggesting a whole incomprehensible landscape behind it. Its car pet is of grass and its furniture in the magnificent bad taste of Gustave Dore. Have placed the living statues in niches on both sides of the door and given them a little box hedge and hung the candelabra which were held by plastered arms out side behind the transparent walls. It looks magnificent in the pale beams of the arc even though they do hurt my eyes. We've worked from nine o'clock yesterday evening to six this morning. And I was at the studio at seven. I myself arranged the ivy round the bed and set the furni ture and the things on the dressing table. It takes such a time getting a set like this ready. It was three in the morning before I was able to make a start by doing a panning shot round the room with the lights following the camera round. In the end, I cut this shot. Then we did the first part of Josette's entrance (when the mirror speaks to her). In between these shots I had a run-through of the moving platform in the cor ridor and one close-up of Marais which I'll use as a cut in the scene where he looks at his hand. They're all right; and one wonders how Josette glides along the ground without moving her feet. Slept at the Hotel du Louvre. They were moving furniture about on the floor above. So I didn't sleep very well. Went to the Palais-Royal for breakfast at five and am now writing these notes in the make-up room at Saint-Maurice. 'Flu. Eczema, caused by the beams from the arc. Don't know how I shall hold out. There are still three weeks to go.
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Sunday. Worked till seven in the morning. Came home at eight. In bed by nine. Woken up by Julien Green and his sister, Anne, who took me out to lunch. Got back to bed at four. Shall go to the studio tomorrow at seven. We go back to day work. This alternation between day and night work makes everything so difficult. Marais has had to keep his make-up on for fifteen hours at a stretch, with the result that I daren't ask him to do a single retake. Some night visitors come and have a look at us working in Beauty's set, but they soon get tired. They didn't realize that film work was so hard. They watch for a few min utes and off they go, exhausted. And we remain to en dure the martyrdom of the blazing arcs or to freeze when they're turned off. But it was necessary for a poet to try and tell a story through the medium of the camera. It had to be done once. I'm well aware that people think I'm wasting my tinle, exhausting myself like this over a film. They are quite wrong.
Tuesday the 18th, 7.30 a.m. Awful night. This inflammation which invades my body and devours my armpits causes me the most in tense suffering. But when I'm working at Saint-Maurice I manage not to think of it. It's at home that pain triumphs. The last two days I've been getting worked up with all sorts of difficulties with Beauty's room. I'm 1 66
wondering how things are turning out and am anxious for a run-through. But the labs are all behind. And when they do produce any rushes, they're generally not the ones you wanted to see. The stock is so hard that it doesn't seem to be able to get the peculiar, delicate trans parency of this ethereal room. I used Diot, the assistant stand-in for the Beast yesterday. He could easily pass for Page 147
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Marais. The mask gives him just the same animal look, even the same gestures (the way he puts his hands up to his mask and eyes). Just before the scene 'What are you doing in my room?' I did a shot of him moving behind the veils. I was obliged to cut this shot. On the screen he didn't look like him at all. Beauty, doing her hair, feels his presence there. After which I did the scene with Josette to balance up with the one of Jeannot outside the door. Have already seen this stuff on the screen. It's magnificent in a way; but for all that, it still worries me. This morning I must retake a close-up of the Beast roaring. As it is now, in half length, one doesn't get the full impact of his eyes. Have yet to do Josette going out backwards, and I have the scene of Jeannot in her room to do (the one when he comes in after she dis appeared by magic and goes to her empty bed and sniffs the fur coverlet). Am too run down, and with alternate night and day work I simply can't see the film objectively as a whole; though I can see that some of the shots have a kind of violent beauty to them. Somehow I must become more serene more like a flowing river. Must take myself in hand. It's absolutely hopeless to attempt to answer all the letters and phone calls from friends. Paul has bought me a car. And he's looking for a chauffeur. Have just been 167
out in it to get a breath of fresh air away from this filth that envelops us until it impregnates us. There's absolutely nothing so terrible as a film which is shot from beginning to end without a break. We all expect to collapse before the finish.
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Thursday the 2Oth December. Haven't kept these notes regularly because, as we're near the end of the film, the work is now even more frantic what with this and the weight of all that has gone before, it really is an effort to keep going. But I have tried to get the maximum intensity into even in cidental shots. Some other company has rented the studios and is waiting to move in. Joinvillc says that 1 am going over the electricity quota. In other words, I have to struggle with difficulties that shouldn't enter my calculations. But in Beauty's room yesterday I got over several of these problems. Darbon wants me to finish to night so, between 9 p.m. and 8 a.m. I will deal with the whole golden key scene (on the overhanging balcony). Have done Beauty's disappearance and reappearance. Had thought of using a double with a deep voice for Marais's part of the Beast. But I see now that it wouldn't work. His voice has a peculiar quality that can't be imitated. As soon as one uses a double for him even a good one the spell is broken. Jacques Lebreton is making a filter which will cut out the top and increase the bass. We shall finish the actual shooting in a fortnight's time and that's when, in a sense, my real work will be168
gin. For then I've got to cut, do the mixes and synchro nize Georges 's music. And get both his and my rhythm into some counterpoint. I saw the winged horse yesterday in the courtyard at Saint-Maurice which Berard wants to add to the stream set. Shall shoot the two sets (each one scene) Monday afternoon and that will finish Marcel Andre's part.
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Saturday the 22nd December. This tedious torture continues. Have an abscess coming up under a neglected tooth which is driving me complete ly mad. Got back from work at eight o'clock this morn ing. Didn't get to bed till nine and at ten woke up in such a state that I had to throw on some clothes and rush to a dentist. I suffered so much from my inflammation and my toothache on the night before last that I couldn't control myself any more, and went all to pieces and was quite unable to direct properly. The living statues fainted in their plaster shells. They were carried into the air where they came to and insisted on being made up again; whereupon they returned and fainted a second time. I got back to the Hotel du Louvre in the morning only to find I'd been shifted to a miserable room next to a telephone booth where people shout all the time. Can't sleep a wink. But thanks to this, have thought of a way of combining several shots and giving a good finish to the end of the sequence. Yesterday I cut all the work we'd done the day before and did this new stuff. Marais was excellent. The run-through had some beautiful work 169
in it. Went over the designs for the sets for the end of the film with Brard this afternoon, and he's now given orders for them to be made up. It's raining; freezing cold. Am miserable. On Monday I'll shoot the bailiff and harbour scene.
Christmas Day 1945. There's never been a proper Christmas since I was a child. We never get that deep warm snow any more and I loathe the parody of it. And never again will I sit up Page 150
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM all night as I used to. Dined at B's last night, then came home to bed. Had worked the whole day doing the lawyer's office and the harbour scene. Finished with Marcel at five o'clock. Dressed Carrier as the bailiffs' clerk and turned the stage carpenters into fishermen for the office scene which, of course, the unions don't allow ; but they were good enough to waive the matter and the union officials themselves turned a blind eye to it. All of which was excellent and these simple people were perfect in their parts. Berard and Escoffier made cos tumes for them out of nothing but a few rags. The camera mounted on a small crane covered Marcel's exit as he slams the door. In another shot: the meeting on the square with the bailiff going out of the other door. Marcel passes him on his horse. The bailiff cries ironic ally 'Bon voyage'. The horse goes on up the street at the end of which we can see some ships and houses by the harbour and then it turns off to the right behind the fish market. A little boy with a crutch crosses the empty 170
street. Fishermen squatting on the ground arc repairing a brown net near a woman who sits by her stall heaped with oysters and fish (Volpere had brought a car full). Every thing was most relaxed, running as smoothly as a watch. A run-through at .30 to see the stuff which I took the night when I made a mess of everything, when the living statues all fainted and I had to use stand-ins after Tiquet and Alekan had told me that the best thing was to scrap the whole night's work. It has turned out perfect. The statues couldn't be better. Shall keep this stuff up my sleeve in case the retake which we did isn't as good. I'm always having to cut bits of intense poetry. But what else can one do? One mustn't, at any cost, he seduced by an attractive idea if it hasn't got its right place. Whatever happens I must keep the shot of the living Page 151
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM statues and will put it in after we pan round Beauty's room. It is the final shot of the room, looking towards the door where Beauty is standing. Her eyes move to the left and I will take over with the camera and thus balance up with the panning shot. After the run-through, Berard and I climbed over the props in the room to get the stream set ready. It's the last one. I feel most depressed. All this exhausting work evaporates and leaves us nothing but its memory. These stages where we have sweated, struggled and suffered will soon be inhabited by new tenants who will treat us as intruders. But here we are at the spring with its dirty water, rocks, grotto, and dripping wall, with its winged horse looking across to the swans. And here I suppose I will once more get worked up, suffer and then forget all about it. 171
Christmas Day, 11 p.m. Have just come back from dining at the British Em bassy where we had a Christmas tree, Georges Auric was at my table and we talked about the music he's to write. He'll start next week. The curiosity that any film arouses can't account for the astonishing publicity we're getting; it must be due to the fact that our object wakes some memory in the public mind. Perhaps they haven't quite forgotten their childhood and aren't so blase after all? If only we can get at this essential childishness we shall be all right. What we're up against is the incredulous reserve that adults have.
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Friday the 28th December, 8.30 Saint-Maurice. What with night work, sleeping all day at the Hotel du Louvre, and other torments, I haven't been able to keep these notes for a few days. Will now tackle the stunt of the Beast turning into Prince Charming. Will begin by doing the very last bit of it. And tomorrow I'll cut up the Beast's mask as a start. In case I can't do it this way, Alekan tried last night to see if it could be done simply by reflection. Otherwise it will take three hours; and during that time, Marais mustn't move a fraction of an inch. Last night I shot the scene where the Beast dies. We tried to keep the swans in the picture by putting collars round their necks and tethering them. But they soon managed to free themselves. And their angry 172
struggles made them look like arabesque figures in a coatof-amis. And this chance accident made me see its possibilities had I thought of it myself, I would have dismissed the idea as being too difficult. For here the swans are attacking the beast whose mane and paws hang limp in the water. With their wings spread, they come on hissing with fury. And Marais, with his usual courage, doesn't flinch, but lets them come on; the sight of these swans attacking their sick master lying helpless and de prived of all his power, added a terrible pathos to the scene. I like this set with the winged horse reflected in the spring's flowing water and the moon lighting a lake of ink. Marais gave a striking performance last night of the Beast drinking. He drank and then spat it out. He actually drank this disgusting water. No other artist I know would have done that.
Saturday the 2$th, 8 p.m. Page 153
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Woke at six at the Hotel du Louvre. Had breakfast at seven at the Palais- Royal and the car's coming to fetch me at 8.30. Alekan and Tiquet have had the last twenty-four hours clear to get the stunt shot ready where Avenant turns in to the Beast. Marais as Avenant and Diot as the Beast had each to stay absolutely motionless, one each side of a glass and superimpose their reflections one on another; as those of Pasteur were in the Berville shop window of my childhood. M 173
Besides that, I shot the model of Diana's Pavilion and the magic mirror which Beauty holds in her hand. Have seen a run-through of the bailiff and harbour stuff. Ex cellent. Have chosen the corridor takes. Amongst all the chaos of doing the stunt sequence I suffered as usual from these wretched germs. Tonight shall try my way of doing it. As I say, Marais will have to stand completely immobile for three hours whilst he's made up bit by bit. If he moves even one-eighth of an inch he'll ruin a take. That's why I've left Alckan to get on with it. If my idea doesn't work, I'll fall back on his. Shall try and finish with Josette and just do the retake of her listening to Marais and the shot where the pearl necklace forms by magic on the Beast's hand (which will project backwards in slow motion). On Wednesday, after the Christmas holiday, made a start on Prince Charming using Rochester stock which is softer and yet more precise than the other two kinds. Clement hopes to shoot the fake clouds out in a court yard in Saint-Maurice if it doesn't rain. Page 154
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Sun day, $ a.m. Have just returned from Saint-Maurice. I loathe work which keeps to a factory schedule. I like improvising with bits and pieces which stimulate my imagination. Have spent the whole of last night fighting a slow-motion camera, a sort of antique sewing machine which has to be slung upside down and turned backwards and then always comes off the rails and scratches the film. The wall stunt 174
went off all right except that to start off with, the paper stuck too quickly and then, being too short, showed the shape of the door behind it. As a result it was just a night of tests. Shall have to do the sleight of hand of the pearls forming on the Beast all over again as the film got scratched. But I have done Josette's missing shot. The big crane worked very well in giving the illusion of a trap door. Josette slowly and gently disappears into the wall. But what hitches we've had were made up for by the run-through of the stream sequence which is really splendid. I think I'll keep Alekan's effort of changing Avenant into the Beast. Especially the one where the fangs grow, as the face blurrs and the eyes fill with shadows and hair. It'll be absolutely first class when cut. And this will mean I shan't have to do the terrible work which the way I wanted to do it would have entailed. Am in a hurry to finish the stream on Wednesday or Thurs day ; so that I can get on with the rest which is no more than the optical stunts. Out in the courtyard, whilst I was struggling with planks and cables, Clement was taking his clouds which he made with German smoke. If the negative's scratched, they'll have to do it all over again.
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Monday. Here we are at the very last day of 1945". And what ever happens, whatever squabbles we in France may have amongst ourselves, we ought to remember that it's better than the Occupation.
There's nothing I don't know about that. For I'm occupied now by germs and the new inflammation from which I now suffer reminds me of the grey canker which has only just disappeared. God, how grateful Td be if anybody could liberate me from my occupants. Praise be to those who cured France of hers. The rest is nothing but discomfort. Have been thinking about the credits. What I'll do is to have a false clapper board made with the credits painted on it and take a shot of Berard and Auric. Am trying to find something that will do for the flying cloak. Misia says there is a kind of rayon satin which hangs well. If Sert were living, he'd have opened his Ali Baba coffers for me and I'd have drawn forth all the splendour I want. But Sert is dead and his door's sealed up.
Wednesday the 2nd January > 1946 , J / p.m. First days of 1946. I'm eaten alive. Woke up feeling even worse but have decided to finish my work. Have only one day and one night left at the studio to do scenes which really require at least ten. I know how these schedules work out. It's all right on paper but quite another thing in practice. Then, a thousand un foreseen difficulties suddenly arrive, and the end of a film creates a sort of fever of clumsiness. Everybody falls over everybody else. And 8.30 in the morning becomes eleven o'clock. The artists have to be made up one at a time: Page 156
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM their hair has to be set; then they go to put their new costumes on to find they need breaking down. And a stunt which seems so simple once you've decided how you're
going to do it, produces insurmountable technical prob lems immediately you attempt it. Will try the impossible but it seems to me we shall have to have one day's grace at the studios or else take ourselves elsewhere. Marais looks supremely elegant as Prince Charming. He made a sensation when he went into the canteen which was full of the Collier de la Reine crowd. Have done the first bit of the scene where Beauty finds her Beast changed into Prince Charming. Shall do the stunt where he gets up tomorrow by shooting it backwards.
Thursday the 3rd January. Am in my little red room at the Palais-Royal looking at the Gustave Dore piece which I've just had cast in bronze. It's this group which made me do this film. In deed it is the film. It's incredible how much a work of art can influence you. And I'm actually using it as an ornament in Beauty's room in the Castle. Holding a steel lance which prises the monster's jaws, Perseus stands in Bellerophon's stirrups between the horses' wings with the scales of the monster, which is part woman, coiled beneath him. The base, in the style of 1900, is like a great wave and each time I walk into my room, the steel lance vibrates and the horse and hero quiver. I want to end the film in this style and shall find a way of using the clouds which we filmed in the court yard they are quite fantastic. Clement and I will perhaps mix the clouds behind the shot of the couple as they fly to the Prince's Kingdom. 177 Page 157
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Friday the 4th January, 7 p.m. Night work. The last night. I know of nothing so sacl as a unit that has worked well together breaking up at the end of a film. Even a stage-hand feels this little death. The work that we've got left is all very difficult. The Prince and Beauty going up into the clouds. Beauty coming through the wall into her father's room. All stunts. But straightforward ones. Which are the only kind I like. I invent them as I go along and go all out. Finished the scene of Prince Charming by the spring yesterday. Marais as Prince was charming. Ending up with a shot of him falling backwards which we'll project by reversing in slow motion so that it will look as though he rises in a single bound with the grace of another world . But in spite of all the work they've contributed,. Alckan, Tiquet and Clement seem to have their minds elsewhere now though they're still helping me. Clement has to choose the exteriors for the Noel-Noel film. Alekan is working on a film with Stroheim. And Tiquet is to work with him too. We are no longer held within the same dream. Each of us is beginning to wake up. In saying that I finish the schedule by tomorrow morn ing, I still have all the optical work to do. The room for this work isn't yet free at the labs. And so we have to hang on and wait until it is ; and on some Sunday, get Beauty and the Beast together again for the flight shot; and meanwhile go on cutting the film, knowing that the finale is missing and has yet to be got into the can. Will start cutting next week. That is the key to my work. My handwriting. No one else can do it for me. Iberia knows what I want and tries to help me but with this, no one can help. For no one can write my 178 Page 158
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM signature. But what she does is of enormous help. If it weren't for her I'd get lost in a coil of films. And she also lends calmness, grace and discretion. My germs tortured me less yesterday but now they're worse again. As soon as I've finished the studio work, I'll go and see the doctor again. I have done exactly what he told me to do.
Saturday the 5*A January, 8 o'clock, Saint-Maurice. Back at Joinville once more. One could feel we were at the end. Everybody a bit on edge, fidgeting. Several visitors. The young woman doubling for Josette was too tall and clumsy the first time she jumped. I thought she was going to twist her ankle. And on her third attempt she hurt her toes and fell, dragging Jeannot down with her. Will have to have all the takes printed and try to use the stuff we've taken in slow motion after the jump. In order to make a link, I did a shot of Marais carrying Josette in his arms. He puts her down. We take a half shot of them, down to the waist, as they come towards the camera. This stuff will of course be projected back wards so that it looks as if they were moving away. Not much left now, except the transparency shot with the glass, and the shot through the clouds showing the earth receding; neither of which can be dealt with at the moment. Shall start cutting the film, though this final scene has yet to be done. Darbon has given us one more night and here we are again in the make-up room at Saint-Maurice. Will do a shot of Josette in the wall to cut in between the one we 179
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM did last night of her passing through it. Will also do one from the wall as she goes across the room to her father. Will use the little camera with the reverse mechanism and mount it on the big crane for the final shot of Beauty and Prince Charming. If I can get a close-up without any background, at all, I can then superimpose the clouds and receding earth behind it. But even so, it's worrying to have to leave things not quite finished, not all in the can.
Sunday, 4.30 a.m. Have just finished off the night sequence with a shot of the glove's shadow on Beauty's face for which we used both cranes ; and a bird's eye view shot of Beauty and the Prince flying up, with the stream seen beneath them, Duverger has had a magnificent new movieola put in the cutting room for me, which is excellent as I was worrying about the old one. A movieola is a miniature projector which you can stop at any one frame and make it go backwards or forwards . Will take the shots of B6rard, Auric and myself on Tuesday (for the credits). And on Monday, will arrange with Orin when to do the optical work.
Sunday, $ p.m* Have just woken up after a medley of the most absurd but entirely coherent dreams. They constitute another 180
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM life which I have to live even to the most trivial details. I'm no longer upset this morning at the thought of coming to the end of the film, as I was yesterday at Joinville. The instinct I have for writing an act of a play to a proper length without timing it has come to my rescue again. I feel I've now done what I had to do. And all that's left of that terrible factory of exciting toys which have for so long absorbed all our nervous strength is the magical movieola which reminds me of the miniature theatre in Monsieur h Vent et Madame la Pluie. And now, by looking into a little piece of ground glass, no bigger than a cigarette case, I shall be able to see all my sets and characters live again. I can start them off whenever I like and interrupt them whenever I will, as I can make them go forwards or backwards. Thanks to the Parisian worker, we are no longer held up for material. Their genius replaces it. And I use the word genius in the Stendhalian sense. I'm always asking stage-hands to do the impossibl e. 'Just a minute' is their reply. Whereupon they disappear and in a few seconds come back with nails, planks and all their paraphernalia. They then stare at the job for a few seconds, muttering to themselves, and then just build it. They're so interested in their own work, they're often oblivious of the sound unit's efforts to keep them quiet. But no sooner has the recording finished than they grab their hammers and saws and are at it again. I oft en wonder how seriously they take the actors. I remember a fat woman in the bus going to Joinville one day was talking about Le Collier de la Reine. Somebody asked her if she were an actress. 'Oh, no!' she replied, 'I am an assistant make-up girl'. A sort of bivouac has sprung up around a charcoal 181
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM brazier stars and .stage-hands stand around warming themselves together. And like old campaigners, we tell of wars won and lost. That is, gossip about the latest films.
Friday the 1 ith January. Have finished. In other words, I'm beginning. Now that I've got all my material, it only remains for me to merge the sequences with one another, and try and get a subtle slow rhythm running through it. I must get this essential quality of a fairy story and avoid ordinary drama tic tempos. One can't do a stunt here. You can't draw tears out of a hat. You either move or you don't move. You either please or you displease. That's all there is to it. Last Monday I did some work in the optical labs since we've been crowded out. We did the close-ups which I'll use as cuts in the final Prince Charming scene. And also the black velvet stunt. My final shots will be a dis solve of Beauty running in front of trees and the fall back wards which will add so much to their flight at the end of the picture. Have shot B6rard, Auric and myself for the credits. At Joinville yesterday I saw a rough cutting copy which Ib&ria has done. It's difficult to get an impression of the whole without music, but I can see I shall have to change some scenes round and break others up: the Beast's castle, the Merchant's house, the stream and Diana's Pavilion. But it's terribly difficult for me to decide now about this film which is so much a part of me. I'm far too close to the work. Every frame bristles with too many associations for me to see it objectively. 182
Monday's the day. Let's hope I can see it all clearer then when I come to tackle the cutting. After which Page 162
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM will time it scene by scene, synchronize the dialogue, attend to the mixings and the music. When it's got some sort of shape about it, I'll run through to Georges Auric.
Friday the 1 8th January. Here I am once more in my little red room struck down by 'flu. It came on me with the suddenness of a tor nado. Can't get on with the cutting that I was trying to do in between running to the Theatre du Gymnase for re hearsals. Now I have to cut, add a re-cut all by telephone. A temperature of 104 has left me horribly weak, outside and inside my head tiredness falls like flakes of snow in those glass balls which one had as a child. Auric's to see the film at two. Darbon and Clement are going to take him to Joinville, whilst I have to stay at the Palais-Royal, impatient and fretting, waiting for them to come back. Last Sunday, Gaston P. asked Berard and me to dine with him at the Ministry of War. We were surprised to find the place actually enjoying the comforts of central heating. And with so much furniture that it looked like a ^depository. P. wanted to know why the French film industry's in such a mess. I told him. I could see he had no idea things were so bad. It's strange how little those in res ponsible positions know of actual conditions. Perhaps this chance visit of ours may do something. One can never tell in this strange world. P. alarmed me very much 183
by asking me to prepare a confidential report. I told him Page 163
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM that it wasn't in nay line but promised to get the various heads of the studios to do it. They have been complaining for years and nobody's listened to them. Shall ask Orin (President of the Technical Commission), Duverger (Director of Sound at Saint-Maurice) and that perfect sound technician Jacques Lcbreton all to make a report. But in my opinion, the situation's hopeless. The only thing is to bum the existing studios down and scrap all the industry's existing equipment. Certainly, if France is to hold her place when colour films get established, the companies will have to abandon these wretched barns where we now have to work. P. spoke of The creation of an artistic tradition* but one can't do that by just pumping stuff out of a furniture store. Before they can create an artistic tradition they must stop taxing artists to death and allow them to live. What painter in 1946 can even dream of taking a little country cottage like the Impressionists did? The situation now is that it doesn't pay us to earn. M. asked Paul * Why is Jean making a film ? They never last.' What piffle. What in the world does? I am not a person who writes to regular hours. I only write when I have to. And just writing dialogue bores me. But to grapple with this giant dream machine wrestling with the light, the equipment, and rescuing time from the tyranny of space is a job after my own heart. I'm not saying I achieve anything or that what I do is well done. But at least Fm proving in a small way that France can still tackle immense odds. No, what I mean is, we cannot fight unless we have such enormous difficulties to over come. We have to remember that in France, and be true to our tradition. If we don't and start despising what we 184
are, it will be the end. And there'll be nothing left but Page 164
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM our epitaph, * Cinema is not an art. J What confounded nonsense! If it isn't at the moment, it is only because our sulky financiers think they're silk- worms and put their clumsy hoofs through the director's web.
Saturday the lC)th January. I toss and turn with my face, worrying how I can cut the last sequence so as to avoid Alekan's weaknesses. They're not really his fault we're all to blame. The trouble was that we had to finish up in such a panic of haste; what with our sets being demolished and other people waiting to come into the studios. We only see our mistakes when we stop. For when you're actually shooting the film, you must not hesitate. If you do, the rhythm gets lost or you lose the feeling. I make the most of my insomnia now by going over the mistakes we've made and thinking up ways so that they won't be so noticeable when the film's cut. Tonight I thought of a way of making the Prince's ap pearance more arresting. Shall cut after Avenant falls in the snow to Beauty drawing back crying 'Where is the Beast?' After which will show the Prince getting up in one shot. Shall have to suppress the shot of the glove, the hand, and the first one we did of the Prince which lacks vivacity. I may finish the whole film on a shot of the snow falling on Avenant as he lies on the pavilion turned into the Beast. Will see.
Sunday the 20th January. Page 165
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Feel a little better despite slight pain in the left eye, but I dare say some other part of me will go wrong sooner or later. Perhaps the germs are quitting what they've al ready destroyed. Yes, I suppose that is a possibility. Darbon phoned me this morning. We are to lunch at Joinville on Tuesday and synchronize the sisters ' scene. On Wednesday I'll go and recut the end of the film. I can hardly live knowing that this bit isn't quite right yet. France is a nation of individuals and completely unfit ted for any mobocracy. It is a place that only exceptional beings can tolerate even if they're only exceptional scoundrels. Poets can live in France so long as they don't get embalmed by position and honour. I have the luck of being one of those people who can help to prevent that dance of death. And I hope I shall go on being so (I myself would joyfully die for real liberty). And perhaps I serve France more closely than those who talk so much about it.
Tuesday the 22nd, 8 a.m. Went to Saint-Maurice yesterday 'with Mila, Nane, Michel and Jeannot. Had an injection of Solucamphor in the morning. After which I didn't feel the slightest bit tired. I like Saint-Maurice and feel quite at home there. Went into the auditorium after lunch and immediately started work. It was a question of dubbing the girls' voices to the boys who are imitating them. Ran through 186
the sequence again and again, once with sound and the rest silent. The girls' lines were projected under the pic ture. It was easy for them, for the boys were imitating Page 166
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM them and they only had to be themselves. I stayed in the monitoring box, looking at the film through a glass and listening to it through a loud speaker. It was extremely funny hearing Nane's voice coming from Michel. After the draper sequence I corrected some of Mila's and Nane's fluffs. We were through at five. Have been to see Raimu working on VEternel Mari. He's got a terrific presence. Watching him on the set, I realized just how much physical beauty can handicap an actor and how a face full of expression and character can help him. The 'mugs'. Katherine Hepburn, whom I saw in a film yesterday evening, is more than beautiful for she has a 'mug'. A 'mug' that catches modulation of the light from outside and reveals all the subtlety of the light from inside. It is as though her face had been carved out with a pruning hook or an axe, yet carved with fantastic delicacy.
Thursday evening, 11 o'clock. The last twenty-four hours have had a strange foreign language, perhaps of a Slav origin, going backwards through my mind. For I>e been watching my characters living their scenes backwards and have been listening to them speaking their fantastic language which seems real enough because, fundamentally, it has the same range as our own. It's rough, raucous, aggressive and heavy 187
language with all its phrases turned up at the ends. And it seems so odd coming from the mouths I know with such amazing fluency. I just had to reverse a handle and the jabbering roar stops abruptly and is instantly trans lated into French dialogue. Page 167
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Cutting a film is one of the most interesting jobs there is. With a pair of scissors and some glue one can, as it were, correct the life one's lived. One can add, delete, and alter. One can make one face say something and another listen to it. You can accelerate a speech or slow down a gesture.
Friday evening , 1 1 o'clock. My cold seems worse again. Am coughing and blowing my nose all the time and can't sleep. Spent the day at Saint-Maurice. I do like this place. It's an absolute village on its own and I might say that I have suffered and lived here in triplicate. Corrected the first three reels in the morning. Georges Auric came at 2.30. Showed them to him after lunch and he timed each with a stop watch. Drive back to Paris with him, where we shut ourselves up in Madame Rolle's office in the TheStre du Gymnase to talk over the work. I'd like a choir, a normal orchestra and a very strange instrumentation for the Beast's Castle. Having settled on these three styles, we went on to the stage where they're rehearsing my play, Yvonne de Bray is admirable even when she's talking quite quietly and casually. 188
Saturday the 2nd February, 1946. For several days I have given Saint-Maurice and the film a miss. For one gets so muddled with the cutting that I just couldn't see what I was doing. Everything seemed dull and pointless. Auric J s timing his music. I'm now haunted by the film, and that is always dis agreeable. I cough at nights. And then dream that my Page 168
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM cough is a mistake in the cutting, and then that all I have to do to sleep quietly is to cut the cough and gum it into some other place. I woke up, coughed, and the dream continued as though I were still asleep. Found myself cutting my cough but then couldn't manage to get it into its proper place. Dreams like this and the im possibility of working on my poem or even answering my letters have made me decide to break with this man-inthe-moon existance. I must get this film out of my system by attending the rehearsals of Les Parents Terribles. Madame Rolle and the cast are a little cross with me any how. They call me the Prisoner of Joinville. This morning I am going to the Discina to see Orin about the Credits and talk to Alekan about some of the continuity.
Wednesday the 13th February. Have got jaundice. Yes, that was about all that was missing! I am so run down, I suppose, I catch any disease that's going round. I felt very ill yesterday and I forced myself to go to Saint-Maurice and try to do some cutting
there. One thing I did was to suppress the long panning shot of Beauty's room as it was redundant. And I deleted several others as well. Les Parents TerriHes which has opened at the Gymnasc is having a greater success than we expected. But Marais has a touch of tracheitis and Gabrielle Dorziat has com pletely lost her voice. Her understudy is on. The work's going well. So I'm going to get out of Paris for a change of air. Darbon is taking me to HauteSavoie. If other nations asked France what her armaments were Page 169
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM she could reply, that she had none but one secret weapon, and if they asked her what that was, she could, of course say that one does not divulge a secret. Yet if they in sisted, she'd lose nothing by showing her secret because it is inimitable. The secret of France's secret is her traditional anarchy. Time and time again people have tried to organize France and to lace the country up into one tyranny or another only to find that the people have slipped through the wheels of their clumsy mechanism. Although they often let the sharks gain temporary triumph, they have a secret spirit which is one of contradiction (the basis of a creative spirit). And it is this which is always running counter to official elites, forming a centre of conscious ness of its own. For centuries France has shown this hidden resilience, yet we talk about France as being decadent. France is always disparaging herself. I possess a copy of an article written by Musset during a most fertile period where he bemoans the facts that there are no poets, novelists or playwrights, and complains that Madame Malibran can only sing in London because the 190
Paris Opera Is incapable of singing in tune; and the Comcdie-Franfaise is collapsing under the dust. Old Corneille used to hire Racine's theatre so that he could put on his own plays to an empty house ; and at that time Racine's plays were compared unfavourably with the in numerable tragedies then produced. The king employed Moliere as a satirist only in order to irritate his Court especially his doctors. Except for the Encyclopaedists who were, so to speak, the first professional men of letters, France has always let its more virile genius perish of poverty . Who made this artistic grandeur of France which one talks so much about? Villon, Nerval, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine. And we know what happened to those gentle Page 170
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM men. France could find no place for them. Some died in the workhouses, others in the gutters. I'm glad that France doesn't appreciate herself and runs herself down. For those who think they are poets have a tendency to live poetically; and those who think they are princes try to live historically. Both of which delusions reduce one to ridicule and are expensive poses to maintain. As Erik Satie used to say: 'Those who have talent have no time nor need to put on airs.' And he added the phrase which Fm always quoting: 'It is not enough to refuse the Legion d'Honneur, the thing is not to have deserved it ! ' The film evidently is the very opposite to improvisa tion, it opposes an unscaleable wall to anarchy. Pascal saw my film last week. * France is the only country where you could possibly make a film like this,' he said. Whether it pleases or displeases is another matter, but I have been able to do it, thanks entirely to a single backer, and to my unit- not to mention the ingenuity of the studio-hands, all of which is in line with that tradition 191
of anarchy which enables us to do the exceptional in spite of the difficulties.
April, 1946. A film is never finished. There's always something to do and though a unit breaks up like mercury, it can't re form in the same manner; which makes it very difficult to do the tidying up. Now one lias, as it were, to gather one's unit from the kingdom of shadows as each one comes back to work on the film, one sees that it is only a memory to them. Page 171
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Now to a sad studio in Montmartre occupying one floor of a block of dressing rooms, labs and offices, my technicians come one after another as if returning to a dream. But after a few minutes, our old spirit is back again and it seems quite natural to us that Marais should come in dressed as Prince Charming. He's accompanied by a stand-in for Josette Day. She's to help in one of the stunts and reinforces the element of dream. Marais has to jump with this young girl from a stage twelve feet high down to a piece of grass. We shall shoot this backwards in slow motion from the top of the stage ; thus when we project their fall it will appear as the missing flight which I want for the last shot of the film. Marais has to jump backwards which is , of course extreme ly difficult, but he doesn't seem in the least bit afraid. Though he confessed afterwards that he was worried of frightening his partner. And at the last minute she funked 192
the jump, whilst we went on shooting nothing at top speed. Finally she screwed up her courage but fell clumsi ly on her leg and didn't want to try again. Marais managed to persuade her. They tried it three times impossible to shoot a fourth take. Anyhow it doesn't matter; I've got all I need. One final shot: the rose illumined. Next day at Saint-Maurice for the sound effects. Nothing so fascinating as watching a job well done. Rauzenat, the effects man, enjoys his work and gets much amusement out of it. Some of these sound men produce their effects by snapping three fingers or breaking twigs and matches into the microphone. But Rauzenat does it all with his hands, feet and mouth. For a galloping horse, he strikes his chest and stomach. Shut up in a sound cabin Page 172
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM I can hear him at it, and through the little window can see him executing a sort of ritual dance before the micro phone. After which I went to the stunt lab at Mont-Voisin and gave precise directions for the innumerable optical effects required in Marais 's metamorphosis into the Beast. The one I've already done isn't satisfactory. Now for the music. I have refused to hear any of the stuff whilst Georges Auric was composing it. I wanted the full effect to be a surprise. After years of working together I have absolute confidence in what he'll turn out. Will record from 8 a.m. until five at Maison de la Chimie. This is the most moving moment of all for me. For in my opinion, however, a film like mine will not depend all that much upon the music. Desormikres is to conduct. Jacques Lebreton to arrange the players and the choirs. The microphone is on a long arm in the centre of the hall. The screen on to which we will project the film 193
hangs behind the orchestra. No doubt it will look very muddy as the supply is at half-voltage and the projector isn't much good. But no matter. All is silent now, and here are the three white flicks which come before the film. And here it is with this quite fantastic synchroniza tion by which, at my request, Georges Auric has not kept to the rhythm of the film but cut across it, so that when film and music come together it seems as though by the grace of God. At first this new element worried me. Then bewilder ed me, and finally convinced me. I had, without realiz ing, made a kind of music myself and it seemed to me that the orchestra was always running counter to it. But gradually Auric triumphs over my ridiculous embarrass ment. My music makes way for his and is wedded to the Page 173
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM film; it impregnates it, consummates it. The Beast en chants us till we sleep and this music is the dream within our sleep. I watch. I listen as though standing in my sleep in the cabin where Jacques Lebreton stands beside me turning his controls to direct the ship. The choirs are badly placed. Lebreton will find them right positions to morrow. He mixes them in with the orchestra. In a fort night's time, I will record this first attempt again. What's so astonishing for me as I watch from my diving bell is the accidental synchronization which does oc casionally occur. If the conductor is out half a second, the spell is broken. Sometimes when they are matched, it seems to light the picture. At other times, it gives the effect of flattening it. What I must do is to make notes of this and reproduce the accident by design. Sometimes a burst from the choir envelops a close-up, isolates it and cancels its effects. At other times it focuses for me; and
the orchestra seems to quicken the tempo of a sequence. In Le Sang cf an Poete I changed the musical sequence where it became too closely related to the picture. This time I shall respect the sequence but I shall direct its use more precisely. The result will be a counterpoint. That is to say, they will not run together both saying the same thing at the same time, neutralizing each other. Indeed, I will deal with this resolutely and shall not hesitate to suppress the music in certain passages where it makes the imagination stick. By doing this it will be even more noticeable when it is heard and the silent sequences will not form a void since they contain a music of their own. (Which would have been another matter if Page 174
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Auric had to decide the cuts.)
Saturday the 1st June, Am writing these last lines of this diary in a countryhouse, where I am hiding from bells of all kinds. Door bells, phone bells and the Rouge est mis. Decided to quit as soon as the film was finished. And it was yesterday that I showed it for the first time to the studio technicians at Joinville. Its announcement, written on a blackboard, caused quite a stir at Saint-Maurice. They had filled up quite a theatre with benches and chairs. Lacombe had even post poned his shooting so that his unit and artists could attend. At 6.30 Marlene Dietrich was seated beside me. I tried to get up to say a few words, but the accumulation of all those minutes which had led to this one moment quite 195
paralysed me and I was almost incapable of speech. I sat watching the film, holding Marlcne's hand, crushing it without noticing what I was doing. The film unwound and sparkled like a far-off star something apart and in sensible to me. For it had killed me. It now rejected me and lived its own life. And the only thing I could see in it were the memories of the suffering which were attached to every foot. I couldn't believe that others would even be able to follow its story. I felt they too would become involved in these activities of my imagination. But the reception of this audience of technicians was quite unforgettable. And that was my reward. Whatever happens, I shall never get such a touching reception as I did from this little village whose industry is the canning Page 175
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM of dreams. After it, I dined at the Palais-Royal with Berard, Boris, Auric, Jean Marais and Claude Iberia, And we swore always to work together. Let's hope we may.
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
BEAUTY AND THE BEAST By MME LEPRINCE DE BEAUMONT*
ONCE upon a time, there lived a very rich mer chant who had six children, three hoys and three girls . And as he was a wise man he spared his children nothing for their education, and provided them with several tutors. The elder daughters were very beautiful; but the youngest was more beautiful still. As a child she was al ways called 'Little Beauty' ; and her sisters were very jealous because this name stuck to her. Not only was the youngest more beautiful, but also kinder and more mod est. Her sisters were both very proud merely because they were rich; they put on airs, behaving like ladies of fashion, fawning after people of high society, and spurn ing to know girls of their own class. They spent their time promenading about, going to balls and plays, and looked down on their young sister who spent most of her time reading at home. As the whole town knew that these two girls were very rich, several important mer chants asked for their hand in marriage; but they re fused such offers because they were looking for a Duke, or at least a Count. Whereas Beauty (for as I said, that Page 176
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM was what the youngest was called) would thank those * Born at Rouen in 1711. Died near Annecy 1780, 199
who wished to marry her, but always refused ; saying that she wanted to look after her father for a few more years. Then suddenly the merchant lost all his wealth and nothing remained of his estate but a little country house a good way from the town. Weeping he told his children that there was nothing left but to go and live there, add ing that if they all worked like peasants they might man age to survive. To which the two eldest daughters replied that they did not wish to leave the town, and that any how, fortune or no fortune, they both had several suitors who were only too anxious to marry them; but in this, of course, they were mistaken; for their wealth had been their only attraction. As they had always been so proud, people said: 'They don't deserve to be pitied. It's just as well that they've been taken down a peg. Perhaps the sheep which they now have to tend will appreciate their fine airs!' But on the other hand, everybody pitied Beauty's misfortune, saying how sorry they were that this should happen to such a good girl who had always been so charitable and kind to the poor. And though Beauty was as penniless as the others, even so, several gentlemen still continued to court her; but she discouraged their attentions saying she could not possibly leave her father now he was so worried and that she intended to go and look after him in the country. At first she, too, had been very upset at losing her for tune. But she soon realized that weeping would not re deem it, and resolved to try and be happy without money. When they were settled in their little country house, the merchant and his three sons spent all their time working the fields. Beauty used to get up at four o'clock in the morning, clean the home and prepare the family Page 177
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM dinner. At first she found it very hard, for she was not used to working like a servant ; but after a time she be came stronger and the work even made her healthier. Of an evening, when her work was finished, she would
read, play the harpsichord, or sing at the spinning wheel. But her sisters were bored to death ; they rose at ten in the morning, strolled about all day, and passed their time bemoaning the loss of their beautiful clothes and gay companions. And they used to try and undermine Beauty's contentment by saying 'It's only because you're so stupid that you are content to live as a peasant.' But the merchant did not agree with them. For he knew that Beauty was far more intelligent than her sisters and he admired the patience of his youngest daughter, who not only did the chores of the house but tolerated her sisters' taunts and insults. The merchant and his family had been living like this for a year, when one day he received a letter informing him that one of his boats, which he had believed lost, had reached port loaded with merchandise. This news went straight to the heads of the two oldest daughters, who immediately saw themselves being able to leave the little house where they were so bored. As their father started off for the harbour, they anticipated their new fortune by asking him to bring them back dresses, fur tippets and baubles of every kind. But Beauty didn't ask for anything, for she could see that the merchant would have no money left once he had carried out her sisters' commissions. 'But don't you want anything?' her father asked her. She hesitated and then said: 'I beg of you to bring me a rose for none grow here.' Page 178
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM She didn't really want a rose and had only asked for one rather than ask for nothing, for she felt that if she had done that, her sisters would have turned on her for being indifferent and for making an example of them. The good man rode off; but when he arrived he found that all his goods had been distrained by his creditors ; and after all his efforts had failed, he set off as poor as when he had arrived. When he had still thirty miles to go to reach his house, he began to rejoice at the thought 201
of seeing his children again ; when he came to a great wood in which he lost his way. It was snowing heavily and the blizzard was so strong that twice he was almost blown from his horse. As night began to fall, he thought he would either perish from exposure or be eaten by the wolves he could hear baying around him. Suddenly, through the trees, he saw a bright light shining in the dis tance. He turned and led his horse towards it, and dis covered that the light came from a great castle. The mer chant uttered a prayer for his delivery and hurried to wards it ; but to his surprise he found no one in the court yard. But his horse found a great open stable full of hay and straw, and as the poor animal was nearly dead with exhaustion, its head was soon buried in the fodder. The merchant tied it up in the stable and then entered the castle, where he could find nobody; then he came to a great hall where a log fire burned in the hearth, and a table stood loaded with food, but laid only for one. As the poor man was soaked to the skin, he went to dry him self by the fire, thinking that the master of the house would surely forgive him the liberty he was taking, and would, no doubt, soon appear. He waited for a consider able time, but when eleven o'clock struck and he had still seen nobody, and being unable to resist the pangs of hunger any longer, he took a chicken from the table, which he ate in two mouthfuls, trembling as he did so. He also drank several glasses of wine, and then, becoming bolder, left the hall and explored several great rooms, Page 179
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM which he found magnificently furnished. Finally he came to a room which contained a wonderful bed, and, as it was past midnight, and he was so tired, he took the liberty of closing the door and lying down there. It was ten o'clock in the morning before he awoke, and to his surprise, he found a clean coat in the place of his old one. * Assuredly', he said to himself, *this castle must belong to some good fairy who has had pity on me.' 202
Looking out of the window, he found that all the snow had[ disappeared, revealing beds of flowersjfto enchant his sight. He returned to the great hall where he had supped on the previous night, to find a little table laid with a cup of hot chocolate. 'Thank you, Madame Fairy/ he said aloud, 'for being so kind to think of my breakfast.' When the good man had drunk his chocolate, he went out to see to his horse ; and passing beneath a bower of roses he suddenly remembered Beauty's request. He stopped to pluck one, for there were so many. At that moment he heard a terrible roar, and looking up saw a hideous beast, so horrible that the merchant nearly fainted at the sight. 'How ungrateful you are/ said the Beast, in a terrible voice. 'I saved your life by taking you into my castle, and in return for my hospitality, I find you stealing my roses, which I love better than anything in the whole world ; you must therefore die to expiate this crime and I shall give you only a quarter of an. hour to make your peace with God. ' The poor merchant threw himself on his knees, wringing his hands: "My lord/ he pleaded, 'I did not think I would offend so gravely by plucking a rose for my daughter who had asked me to bring her one.' 'I am not a lord/ replied the monster, 'I am a Beast. I do not like compliments. I prefer people who say what they think, and you do not move me with your flattery. But since you tell me you have some daughters I will for Page 180
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM give you on condition that one of them comes here willingly to die in your place. Do not argue with me; go immediately but before you do, swear that you will re turn in three months if one of your daughters does not come meanwhile to die in your place/ The good man had no intention of sarcificing one of his precious children to this ugly monster, but thinking that this would at least give him the pleasure of embracing them once more, he swore that he would return; upon
which the Beast told him he could leave when he wished. 'But/ he added, 'I do not wish you to return empty handed. Go back to the room where you slept ; there you will find a great empty chest. You may fill it with any thing you see, and I will have it carried to your house.' At this, the Beast withdrew, leaving the poor man saying to himself 'If I am to die I shall at least now have the con solation of leaving my children provided for/ He returned to the chamber where he had slept and filled the great chest with a huge quantity of gold and closed it down. Then he saddled his horse in the stable, and rode from the castle feeling as sad as he had been happy when he found it the previous evening. His horse now found its way through the forest paths, and within a few hours, the good man reached his home again. His children gathered round him excitedly; but instead of responding to their kisses, the merchant began to weep as he looked down on them. Holding out the rose which he had brought for Beauty, he gave it to her and said; 'Here you are, Beauty, take this rose. It has cost your father very dear/ Whereupon he told his family of his mysterious adventure. After this recital, his two elder daughters turned on Beauty and heaped all the blame up on her. 'See/ they cried, What this little missy's pride has brought us to! Why couldn't she ask for sensible things as we did! But oh no, Miss Beauty must always be different. And now that she has been the means of condemning our father to death, she doesn't even Page 181
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM weep.' 'What good would that do?' Beauty replied, 'and be sides, why should I weep for my father's death since he need not perish ; for the monster is willing to accept one of his daughters in his place and I intend to deliver myself to his fury, and am thankful for the opportunity ; since, in dying to save him, I shall prove I love him/ But her brothers would have none of this. 204
'You shall not go,* they cried, 'we will go, and find this monster and if we cannot kill him we will perish in the attempt/ 'It is useless to try,' said the merchant, 'for this Beast's power is so great you have no chance of destroy ing him. I am deeply touched by Beauty's willingness to go, but I will not permit it. I am already old and have only a short time to live ; at the worst I shall be losing only a few years of my life, which I shall not regret as it is for your sakes, my dear children.' 'You shall not go back to the castle without me,' said Beauty. 'And you cannot prevent me from following you. I am not attached to life although I am young ; and I would rather be devoured by this monster than die of the grief your death would cause me. ' In spite of her father's refusal, Beauty insisted that she would go to the mysterious castle, and her sisters were delighted at her decision ; because her virtue always ag gravated them, and made them furious with jealousy. The merchant was so occupied with his grief at the thought of losing his daughter that he forgot all about the chest he had filled with gold ; but when he went to bed that night, he was astonished to find it there in the room. He decided not to tell his children of his new wealth, because he knew that his two elder daughters Page 182
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM would immediately wish to return to the town, and he had resolved to die in the country; but he confided in Beauty, who told him that several gentlemen had called at the house during his absence, two of whom had been to pay suit to her sisters. She begged her father to endower them ; for she was so good, she loved them with all her heart in spite of the evil they had done her. These two wicked girls then rubbed their eyes with onions so that they could feign tears when Beauty set out with her father; but her brothers wept as genuinely as the merchant. Beauty, alone, did not weep,
because she did not wish to add her grief to theirs. The horse took the same road back to the castle, and by evening they saw it ahead of them, illuminated as it was the first time. Again the horse went of its own accord to the stable, and the good man entered the great hall with his daughter where they found a table, magnificent ly dressed and laid with two places. The merchant hadn't the heart to eat; but Beauty, rretending to be at ease, sat down at the table and served her father; then she said to herself 'I suppose the Beast gives me such good food because he wants to fatten me up before eating me. ' When they had supped, they heard a great roar and the merchant, knowing it was the Beast, wept and began to say farewell to his daughter. When Beauty saw the Beast's hideous face she could not stop herself from trembling; but she tried to control her fear, and when the monster asked her if she had come willingly, she re plied that that was so. 'That is good of you,' said the Beast, 'and I am much obliged.' Then, turning to her father, he said: 'You must leave tomorrow morning and never try to return/ Then he wished Beauty good night and immediately withdrew. 1 Oh my daughter,' cried the merchant, embracing Page 183
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM Beauty, l l am already half dead with fear. I beg of you to go and leave me here.' 'No, Father,' said Beauty, with all firmness, c you must leave tomorrow morning, and perhaps heaven will have pity on me.' They went to bed, thinking that they would not sleep at all, but hardly had their heads touched the pillows, than they sank into a deep slumber. During her dream, Beauty saw a lady who said to her: *I am pleased with your virtue, Beauty; your sacrifice in giving up your life to save your father's will not go without reward.' When she awoke, Beauty told her father of this dream, and 206
though she was consoled by it, he uttered a groan of remorse, as he came to separate himself from his beloved daughter. When he had gone, Beauty sat down in the great hall, and began to weep too ; but as she had a great deal of courage, she gave herself up to God, resolving not to grieve during the little time she had left to live. For she was now resigned to the fact that the Beast would devour her that evening. Whilst waiting she decided to go for a walk, and explore this beautiful castle. Even in her dis tress she could not help admiring its grandeur ; then, to her surprise, she saw a door, on which was written, Beauty s Apartment. She immediately opened it and was dazzled by its elegance. But what pleased her most was a huge bookcase, a harpsichord, and her favourite volumes of music. 'I can see no one wants me to be bored/ she said to herself, and then wondered why such pains had been taken to make her comfortable if she had only that day to live. This thought revived her courage. She opened the bookcase and saw a book in which, in letters of gold, were written these words : Desire, command ; here, you are the Queen; jou are the mistress. 'Alas/ she whispered to Page 184
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM herself, *the only thing I wish is to see my father and to know how he is at the moment.' And as she said this, she glanced into a great mirror, and to her amazement, saw her home in it, with the father just arriving there, looking extremely sad. She watched and saw her sisters run to meet him ; and in spite of all the grimaces they made to appear distressed, the joy they felt at the loss of their sister was plainly written on their faces. After a moment, the mirror cleared. Beauty began to think that the Beast was not so cruel after all, and perhaps she might not have anything to fear. At midday she found the table laid, and whilst she ate the meal, she listened to an ex quisite concert, although she could not see any players. But in the evening, as she was about to sit at the table she 207
again heard the Beast's roar, and in spite of herself, she shivered with terror. 'Beauty,' said the monster, 'will you be gracious enough to let me watch you sup?' 'You are the master here/ she cried, trembling. 'No/ replied the Beast, 'I am your servant. If I weary you, you have only to tell me to go away, and I shall do so at once. I suppose you find me very ugly, don't you?' That is true/ said Beauty, 'for I do not know how to lie; hut I think that you are very kind/ 'You are right/ said the Beast; 'but not only am I ex tremely ugly, I am also simple. And I know very well I am only a Beast/ 'You can't be so simple/ Beauty replied, *if you say you are, for fools never recognize their stupidity. ' Then eat, Beauty/ said the monster, 'and try not to Page 185
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM be sad in your house; for everything here is yours, and I shall grieve if you are not happy/ 'You are very hospitable/ said Beauty. 'I must confess that your kindness pleases me ; and when I come to think of it, you no longer seem so ugly/ 'Yes, Beauty, I have a good heart, but for all that, I am a Beast/ 'Many men are more bestial than you/ Beauty re plied. 'And I like you with your head better than those who, beneath a man's face, hide a false, evil and inhuman heart/ If I were not so stupid/ he replied, 'I would compli ment you, but as I am, all I can say is, thank you/ Beauty enjoyed her supper, for she no longer feared the monster so much ; but she nearly died with terror when he suddenly said to her: 'Beauty, will you be my wife?' For a long time she made no answer, for she was afraid that her refusal might arouse his wratk But finally she summoned up the courage to whisper 'No, Beast/ And the poor monster's sigh echoed round the castle;
but Beauty had no need to fear, for the Beast turned to her sadly and bade her farewell, then slowly walked out of the room, turning back at the door to look pathetic ally at her. Once Beauty was alone, she was overwhelmed with sympathy for this poor Beast. 'What a pity,' she said to herself, 'that he is so ugly, for he is very kind ! ' Beauty passed three peaceful months in the castle. Every evening the Beast came to watch her eat her supper, Page 186
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM and though he would talk good enough sense, he never displayed what the world would call wit. And each day, Beauty discovered fresh signs of the monster's kindness; from seeing him every day, she had grown accustomed to his ugliness and she no longer feared his visits ; and, in deed, she began to look forward to them: constantly looking at her watch to see when it would be nine o'clock for the Beast never failed to appear at that time. The only thing that caused Beauty any distress was that before the monster disappeared every evening, he always asked her if she would be his wife ; and when she refused, he looked as though in pain with grief. One day she said to him: 'You cause me much distress. I would like to marry you, Beast, but I have too much respect for you to make you believe that that could ever happen. But I shall always be your friend ; you must try to content yourself with that.' 'Yes, I must/ replied the Beast, 'for in truth, I know I am most horrible to look at, though I love you so very much; nevertheless, I shall be happy so long as you re main here. Promise me that you will never leave me.' Beauty blushed at these words; for in the mirror in her room, she had seen that her father was ill and pining away at losing her; and consequently, at that moment she was wishing to leave the castle and return to him. *I could/ she said, eventually, 'promise never to leave you altogether; but I am so homesick to see my father that I shall die if you refuse me that pleasure.' <j wou ld rather die myself/ said the Beast 'than cause 209
you any unhappiness ; I shall send you home to your father, where you will stay and It will then be your poor Beast who will pine away at your loss.' Then Beauty began to weep, and weeping, said *I like you too much to make you suffer so, and I promise to Page 187
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM return in a week. You have let me see in your mirror that my sisters are now married, and that my brothers have gone away with the army; so my father is all alone. Do allow me to remain with him for just one week/ 'Tomorrow morning you will be there 1 said the Beast, 'but remember your promise. You have only to lay your ring on the table when you go to bed, and you will re turn. Farewell, Beauty/ With these words he sighed, as he often did, and Beauty went to bed very sad, at having saddened him. When she woke up in the morning, she found herself in her father's house, and, ringing a bell which was be side her bed, a maid entered, who cried out in surprise at seeing her. At this the good merchant ran up to her room and was overwhelmed with joy at the sight of his daughter, and for more than a quarter of an hour they embraced each other. Then Beauty realized that she had no clothes ; but the maid told her that she had just found a huge chest in the next room full of dresses embroidered with gold and studded with diamonds. Beauty thanked her good Beast for his forethought, and taking the most modest dress for herself, she told the maid she wished to give the others to her sisters; whereupon the chest immediately disappeared. Her father warned her that this was a sign that the Beast wished her to keep the dresses for herself, and no sooner had he said this, than they appeared again. Whilst Beauty dressed herself, she sent a message to her sis ters who, with their husbands, came hurrying to the house. The eldest had married a man who was as beauti ful as Adonis, but as he was so much in love with his own
face, busy admiring it from morning till night, he had no Page 188
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM time to admire his wife. The second had married a man who had considerable wit, with which he used to tease and annoy everyone, beginning with his wife. Beauty's sisters were nearly consumed with jealousy when they saw her dressed like a princess and more radiant than the day. And though she welcomed them with such tender ness, they could not stifle their spite, which became more venomous as she told them of the happiness she had found. Then these two jealous sisters took themselves into the garden to give full vent to their bitterness. 'Why should that little hussy be happier than we, when we are so much more lovable than she?' said one. 'Sister, J said the other, 'an idea has occurred to me. Let us try and keep her here beyond the week. If we can do that, her stupid Beast will become so angry with her for breaking her promise, he will probably devour her.' 'That's a good idea,' replied the other. 'To do that, we had best make a great fuss of her.' With this scheme in mind they immediately went up stairs again and feigned so much affection towards their sister, that Beauty wept at the pleasure they gave her. And when the week was nearly over, these crafty sisters tore their hair, pretending to be so distraught at her go ing that she promised to stay for one more week. Nevertheless, Beauty reproached herself for the unhappiness she was causing her poor Beast whom she now loved with all her heart, and whom she longed to see again. On the tenth night at her father's home, she dreamt that she was back in the castle garden, and that she saw the Beast lying prostrate on the grass about to die, and reproaching her for her ingratitude. Beauty woke and wept. 4 How wicked I am,' she said to herself, 'to make a Beast suffer so when he has been so kind to me. It is not
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his fault that he is so ugly or so simple. He is kind, which, of itself, is worth all the rest. Why did I refuse to marry him? I should be happier with him than my sisters are with their husbands, for it is neither beauty nor wit in a husband which makes his wife content ; it is their good ness of character, their kindness and their care ; and the Beast has just these three qualities. Though I am not in love with him, yet I respect him and feel love towards him. I must not make him unhappy. If I do, I shall re proach myself all my life.' With this, she got up and placed the ring on the table and got back to bed, and very soon was asleep. When she woke in the mornjng it was with joy that she found her self back in the Beast's castle. She dressed herself magnifi cently to please him, and then waited impatiently through the day for nine o'clock ; but when the clock struck that hour, the Beast failed to appear. The thought then oc curred to her that perhaps she had already caused his death. Frantically, she ran through the castle, loudly calling his name. After searching everywhere, she sudden ly remembered her dream, and ran down the garden to the moat where she had seen him lying. There she found the poor Beast lying unconscious on his back. And be lieving him to be dead, she threw herself on his body, no longer feeling any revulsion at his appearance. And as she lay there she felt his heart still beating, so taking some water from the moat, she revived him by sprinkling it on his forehead. Then the Beast opened his eyes, 'You for got your promise/ he said, 'and my remorse at losing you made me no longer want to live ; but I shall now die content since you have given me the pleasure of seeing you once again.' 'Oh my dear Beast, you must not die/ cried Beauty, *but live to marry me ; for I now give you my hand and swear that I will be yours alone. I thought that it was only Page 190
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM friendship that I felt for you, but the grief I felt when I 212
thought you were dead made me see that I cannot live without you.' No sooner had Beauty said these words than the whole castle lit up; with fireworks and music. But Beauty paid little attention to them, she turned her eyes back to her Beast, for whose health she still trembled, and to her amazement, the Beast had disappeared and she saw a Prince more beautiful than Love himself, lying at her feet. The Prince began to thank her for breaking the spell under which he had laid for so many years. And though he deserved all her attentions she could not help herself from interrupting him to ask where her poor Beast was. 'You see him at your feet/ replied the Prince, 'a wicked fairy had cast a spell on me that I had to remain disguised as a simple beast until a beautiful girl consented to marry me. No one in the world but you had virtue enough to see what goodness there was in me, and though I offer you my crown I cannot repay the debt I owe you. ' Beauty, delightfully surprised, gave her hand to lift this beautiful Prince from the ground. Together they went inside the castle, and to her joy, she found her father and all her family there in the great hall, where they had been transported by the beautiful fairy who had first appeared to Beauty in her dream. 'Beauty/ said the fairy, *come and receive the reward for the choice you have made ; you have preferred virtue to beauty and wit, and you now deserve to find all these qualities in the one you love. You will become a great queen; may your throne not destroy your virtue. ' 'But as for you/ said the fairy, turning to Beauty's elder sisters, *I know your little hearts and all the malice they contain. You will become two statues, yet keep Page 191
JEAN COCTEAU DIARY OF A FILM your reason within the stone that shall embalm you. You will stand for ever at the gate of your sister's castle and I impose no other punishment on you but this: that you must watch and witness her happiness. But you can 213
break the spell the moment you recognize your own faults and I'm very much afraid you will always remain as statues. For though you may correct your pride, your bad temper, greediness and sloth, only a miracle can take envy from your heart.' At that moment the fairy waved her wand and all the others in the hall were transported to the Prince's kingdom where his subjects welcomed him with joy, where he married Beauty, where they lived a very long time, in perfect happiness because their love was founded on virtue.
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