JEAN COCTEAU Director, La Belle et La Bête
The French poet, writer, artist, and filmmaker
was born to a wealthy family on July 5 1889 in a
small town near Paris. Jean’s father committed
suicide when he was ten years old. In 1908,
Jean associated himself with Edouard de Max,
a reigning tragedian of Paris stage at this time.
De Max encouraged him to write, producing
the premiere of the young writer’s poetry. In
1909, Jean met the Russian impresario Sergey
Diaghilev who ran the Ballets Russes. Diaghilev
encouraged him to venture into the genre of
ballet. He inspired Jean to write the libretto for
an exotic ballet called Le Dieu Bleu. During this
time, Jean also met composer Igor Stravinsky.
In the spring of 1914, he visited Stravinsky in
Switzerland. It was during this visit that Jean
finished his first book, Le Potomak. In 1917,
he met Pablo Picasso. Jean and Picasso went
to Rome where they met up with Diaghilev.
Jean helped prepare the ballet Parade: Picasso
designed the sets, Erik Satie wrote the music,
and the ballet was choreographed by Leonide
Massine. After World War I, Jean founded a
publishing house called Editions De La Sirene.
The company published his writings and many
musical scores of Stravinsky, Satie and a group
of composers known as Les Six. In 1918, Jean
formed an intimate friendship with a 15-yearold novelist, Raymond Radiguet who strongly
influenced Jean’s art and life.
The young writer would die f