The Blood of a Poet (1932)

blood of a poet poster 1932 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great visuals for when it was made, short and sweet

Interpretational and virtually no plot

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Blood of a Poet

Studio:  Vicomte de Noailles

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Drama

Release Date(s):  January 20, 1932 (Premiere)/November 3, 1933 (US)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

blood of a poet mouth on hand

Talk to the hand!

An artist (Enrique Rivero) finds himself literally attached to his work with the mouth of latest creation appearing on his hand and then finds himself trapped in a voyeuristic hall of abnormalities.  A snowball fight turns deadly and a card game played over the body of the fallen takes another deadly turn.

Written and directed by Jean Cocteau, The Blood of a Poet (Le sang d’un poète) is a surreal experimental film.  The avant-garde movie is the first part of what is loosely considered The Orphic Trilogy which were followed by Orpheus (1950) and Testament of Orpheus (1960).  The Criterion Collection released the movie as part of The Orphic Trilogy (Criterion #66) under its own numbering (Criterion #67).

blood of a poet kid climbing wall

Man I got to get these kids out of the house…they’re climbing the walls

I easily found Orpheus, but The Blood of a Poet and Testament of Orpheus where a bit harder to track down since they are out-of-print with Criterion.  The movie is loaded with bizarre imagery and with a short runtime, I have to say it is a fun watch.

There isn’t much of a story, but you can’t go into an avant-garde style movie and expect one.  There are considered four parts but parts one and two are largely tied together while parts three and four are tied together.  There is a wrap-around tie of the statue in the final part and the floating head sculpture imagery is also throughout the movie.  While there is no direct story, it is interesting to try to suss out some of the imagery of the movie.

The cast is almost a non-factor.  Enrique Riveros plays the artist (or poet) caught up in his work (the statue is played by Elizabeth Lee Miller) and he almost feels like a full character.  He drops out for the second half of the film and the second set of “characters” are less developed.  This style of film doesn’t really lend itself to characters so I can’t blame anyone for not making much of an impression.

blood of a poet transvestite

Weird cautionary tales?

What excels are the visuals.  Jean Cocteau plays with time a lot…reversing shots and with a tilted room, he has the characters literally climbing walls.  The movie is an early talkie and it has a lot of the weird blending of talk and silent movie aesthetics like title cards.  The movie is ahead of its time in its visuals.

I do recommend The Blood of a Poet simply because it is fifty minutes long.  It is a short and odd picture.  Of the “trilogy”, it is a good start, but Orpheus is the most narrative driven of the three.  The movie is an interesting and if you are watching an art-house foreign film, The Blood of a Poet isn’t a bad introduction to the genre.

Related Links:

Orpheus (1950)

The Testament of Orpheus (1960)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response