Synopsis by David Lewis
Le Jeune Homme et la Mort was a ballet film, based on the Ballet de Champs-Elysées' production of Roland Petit's famous 1946 work, which was itself based on the eponymous poem by Jean Cocteau. Urged upon Kenneth Anger by Cocteau, the finished film was to be shot on 35 mm and in color. Anger shot a number of black-and-white test rolls in preparation for the larger project, which never got off the ground due to a lack of financing. Had it been made in 35 mm, Le Jeune Homme et la Mort would've been one of the first full-length ballet films in history. When it was eventually made into a film in 1966, it was still one of the first full-length ballet films in history! This version was directed by Roland Petit himself, with Rudolf Nureyev in the title role. The status of Anger's 16 mm black-and-white footage -- how long it may have run, who the dancers were, and if it still survives -- remains a mystery. The unfinished film would still be valuable, as it would provide a glimpse of one of the most influential European ballet productions of the immediate post-war era at a remove of only five years distance from the premiere.