L'Éternel retour (The Eternal Return) (1943)

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Eternal Return (L'Eternel Retour) translates the Tristan and Isolde legend into contemporary (e.g. 1939) terms. The Tristan counterpart, Patrice (Jean Marais), falls in love with the modern-day Isolde, named Nathalie. Actually he has fallen for two Nathalies: when Nathalie I (Madeleine Sologne) spurns his offer of marriage, he turns his attentions to Nathalie II (Junie Astor). Still carrying a torch for Nathalie I, Patrice attempts a nocturnal rendezvous with his true love on the eve of his wedding. Because of a tragic blunder, Patrice and Nathalie I are reunited only in death. The dream-like quality of Eternal Return is due more to the input of screenwriter Jean Cocteau than director Jean Delannoy. The film, with its mystical trappings and ethereal performances, can now be viewed as a precursor to Cocteau's own Beauty and the Beast. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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