vendredi 6 avril 2012

Edouard Dermit, l'Ange Heurtebise

In early 1947 Jean Cocteau, who started to live at Milly-la-Foret, engaged a gardener : the sensationally handsome Antoine Dermit (1925-1995). The 22-years-old young man who was as the son of a Lorraine miner had been rebaptised Edouard by his mother, popularly shortened to Doudou.

Herbert List photographied him in 1948. The same year, Dermit made a first appearence as an actor, in Cocteau's L'Aigle à deux têtes. In 1950, he played under the direction of Jean-Pierre Melville, entrusted by the poet, in Les Enfants terribles. This memorable performance by an unknown comedian, carefully coached by Cocteau and sensitively directed by Melville, was a sensation. The beautiful lighting and the haunting music by Georges Auric added to the film's spell. Dermit's beauty was again displayed to artistic effect by Cocteau in Orphée, as the young poet Segeste. The name comes from one of Cocteau's poem L'Ange Heurtebise. The character reappeared in Cocteau's last film, Le Testament d'Orphée (1959), as the older poet's guardian.

Cocteau had soon discovered Dermit's gifts as a painter, and taught him all he knew about the techniques of art. When he died, Cocteau left many drawings and sketches for the frescoes of a small chapel in Frejus, and these his adopted son was able to use in order to complete his master's work there. Cocteau had also left in his charge the manuscript of a posthumous work, Passé défini, which Dermit saw through the press.

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