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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Someday I will write some of my own thoughts, but today I post this article.

While he is perhaps more widely known for his lovely 1946 adaptation Beauty
and the Beast
, Jean Cocteau’s finest achievement is arguably Orpheus,
a 1950 update on the Greek myth of the same name.

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Saturday, 7 December 1996


Maria Casares was the most outstanding French tragic actress of her generation. She was born in Spain but, because of enforced exile at the end of the Spanish Civil War, her career was entirely on the French stage and screen.

Unlike her seniors Edwige Feuillere and Madeleine Renaud, she brought an atavistic and foreboding sense of tragic destiny to her performances that made her unsuitable for comedy and the lighter theatre. She carried on the tradition of Sarah Bernhardt in performing the great roles of Greek tragedy and of the French classical theatre, Phedre being one of her most outstanding performances, but she also played a multiplicity of parts in plays by Ibsen and early moderns and by contemporary playwrights including Brecht, Genet, Anouilh, Sartre, Camus, Claudel and Edward Bond among others. She introduced J.M. Synge to the French public with a legendary production of Deirdre of the Sorrows in 1942 under the German occupation and shortly afterwards made her screen debut as Dubureau’s wife Nathalie in Marcel Carne’s great film Les Enfants du Paradis (1943). She was 21 at the time.

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