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CinepoetryImaginary Cinemas in French Poetry$
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Christophe Wall-Romana

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780823245482

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823245482.001.0001

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Le Film surnaturel

Le Film surnaturel

Cocteau's Immersive Writing

(p.97) Chapter Three Le Film surnaturel

Christophe Wall-Romana

Fordham University Press

Contrary to accepted ideas, Cocteau was not a poet who later turned to cinema: he was a cinepoet from the start. This chapter examines the experience of the film apparatus and embodied spectatorial immersion in his writings over the years 1913 to 1930. Even before he penned film criticism (ca. 1919), or discovered Chaplin (ca. 1916), Cocteau developed a detailed sensorial poetics of the cinema apparatus. The chapter focuses on specific aspects such as the cone of image projection overhead, the screen as a slice of the 3-D cone, off-screen as fantasmatic visual space, and visual immersion as correlated to being submerged underwater or to encountering the hard snowy surface of the screen. Two types of documentary were germinal for Cocteau: the footage rescued posthumously from the Scott expedition (ca. 1912) and the Williamson brothers’ early submarine documentaries (ca. 1913). The cinepoetics of Scott vs. Williamson is also conspicuous in his early novels such as Thomas The Impostor (1923).

Keywords:   Jean Cocteau, Débarcadères, Le Potomak, Thomas l’imposteur, Le Cap de Bonne-Espérance, Immersion, Cone of projection, Underwater, 3-D

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