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January 19, 1988|MICHAEL WILMINGTON | Compiled by Terry Atkinson

"The Eternal Return."("L'Eternel Retour.") Nelson/Embassy. $29.95. Jean Cocteau's modern reworking of the Tristan and Isolde legend--with Jean Marais and Madeleine Sologne as Patrice and Natalie, a pair of doomed lovers who live in a world of castles, islands, white sails and malignant giants and dwarfs--was shot in 1943, during the Nazi occupation of France. And perhaps this Wagnerian bonbon was writer Cocteau's way of getting around the Germans: flattering and flirting with their own romantic myths. Though it was directed by Jean Delannoy--a man notorious for his cold, chiseled, unemotional style--this was the most wildly emotional film of Cocteau's whole career. His propensity for tales of forbidden passion and love mixed with death finds great expression here, along with his delight in grafting art, dreams and legends onto contemporary life. It's a compelling, disturbing nightmare-romance. Information: (213) 285-6000. *** 1/2

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