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Orpheus (1950)

Orphée (original title)
Unrated | | Fantasy, Drama, Romance | 29 November 1950 (USA)
A poet in love with Death follows his unhappy wife into the underworld.

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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
François Périer ...
...
The Princess - Death
Marie Déa ...
Henri Crémieux ...
L'éditeur
Juliette Gréco ...
Aglaonice
Roger Blin ...
The Poet
Edouard Dermithe ...
Paul Amiot ...
Judge
René Worms ...
Judge
Raymond Faure
Pierre Bertin ...
Le commissaire
Jacques Varennes ...
Judge
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
André Carnège ...
Judge
Claude Mauriac
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Storyline

Orphee is a poet who becomes obsessed with Death (the Princess). They fall in love. Orphee's wife, Eurydice, is killed by the Princess' henchmen and Orphee goes after her into the Underworld. Although they have become dangerously entangled, the Princess sends Orphee back out of the Underworld, to carry on his life with Eurydice. Written by <P.M.Laws@education.leeds.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

poet | underworld | radio | mirror | death | See All (35) »

Genres:

Fantasy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

29 November 1950 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Orpheus  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Both Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo were approached about playing the mysterious Princess. Both declined. See more »

Quotes

Heurtebise: I am letting you into the secret of all secrets, mirrors are gates through which death comes and goes. Moreover if you see your whole life in a mirror you will see death at work as you see bees behind the glass in a hive.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Donkey Skin (1970) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A timeless fantasy classic
17 September 2000 | by (Winnipeg, Canada) – See all my reviews

"Orpheus" is still one of the most magical fantasy films, despite the technical advances made in special effects. The journeys through mirrors (achieved by using doubles, vats of mercury, troughs of water, and unsilvered glass) have a dreamlike quality and the zone beyond them has the haunted nightmare feeling of a 1940s neoromantic painting. A versatile poet, playwright, essayist, artist, and filmmaker, Jean Cocteau made this film when he was 60. He identified with the egotistical, death-loving Orpheus, and the hostility that characters in the movie have towards Orpheus reflect the homosexual, dilettante, politically uncommitted Cocteau's own resentment of the attacks levelled against him by the Surrealists and communists in the 1920s, and after the war by younger critics. The tribunal in the underworld is a combination of wartime resistance meetings and postwar courts set up to judge collaborators. The cryptic snatches of poems on the car radio were inspired by the coded messages sent by the BBC to the French Resistance. The casting of Jean Marais as the fading poet and Edouard Dermithe as the rising one reflects the position the two actors had in Cocteau's life. The film is at one timeless and a reflection of Paris in the postwar years.

"Orpheus" has its weaknesses, but it has worn well. While it may seem less obscure today, it has lost little of its poetic charm. Some of its particular grace comes from the performances by the handsome Marais, the striking Maria Casares, and Francois Perier.


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