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Orpheus (1950)
"Orphée" (original title)

8.1
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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 ... See full summary »

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Title: Orpheus (1950)

Orpheus (1950) on IMDb 8.1/10

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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 ...
María Casares ...
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

For the scene in which Orphee passes his hand through a glass pane, Cocteau used a vat of mercury to create the effect. 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 Dracula (1992) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The delightfully lithe work of an artist!
5 February 2003 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

It was fantastic that I got to see this film, yet odd that it had to be from the video selection of my English faculty library. So, headphones it was, on a typically cold English February day, in a place of learning.

I quickly took to this spirited, ambitious film; a heady concoction that blends fantasy and reality beautifully. This is truly one of the aesthetically wondrous films one could ever wish to see... it has a visual poetry that beguiles the eye, as well as the verbal poetry of a fine script. This is a Cocteau film in which he goes a bit deeper into his characters; while the acting is 'stagy' (in quite an appealing manner) the use of location firmly grounds the piece in an initial contemporary, provincial French town. Cocteau's camera takes in all that is necessary and no more, in conveying his lucid dream visions. That the realism so convinces, in its way of establishing a sleepy, unremarkable French town, really helps the fantasy to come across within a richly plausible context.

Many touches seem audacious and visionary - the very fact of translating this ancient myth to contemporary France, the brilliant device of having Orpheus enraptured by at times otherworldly, at times mundane messages conveyed through a crackling car radio... the imagery of a mirror turning watery as it is passed through; this is sublime, artful stuff, of a heavily metaphysical, cerebral yet enjoyable nature. Maria Casares is absolutely splendid as the "Princess", an aspect of Death; beautifully sleek and stern, with a suppressed tenderness brought out later in the film. Casares brilliantly conveys the sense of a timeless creature of the ages, despite her being only in her 27th year when it was made. Jean Marais is wonderfully theatrical in his acting; a good portrayal of the flawed artist - in this case 'poet', chasing after inspiration rather than worldly happiness. The overlaps with Cocteau himself, autobiographically, add a little extraneous interest... certain scenes seem to refer to Cocteau's position in France, and interestingly also the occupation, with the leather clad motor-cyclists and absurdist underground tribunals...

I should mention the character Heurtebise, treated deftly by Cocteau; who seems to find most to relate to in his male leads, Orpheus and Heurtebise. While the very feminine Death is portrayed exceptionally, Maria Dea's Eurydice is I feel, seen as quite insignificant, though Dea does her best. It's a shame Juliette Greco gets such short shrift in her role as Aglaonice; much is hinted at early on, regarding her antagonistic character, that is not followed up. Francois Perier is wonderful as Heurtebise; along with Casares the most memorable performance here. Perier really makes you believe in and sympathize with this character, as well as having a matter-of-fact eccentricity comparable to Marius Goring's Conductor in "A Matter of Life of Death".

Auric and Hayer do a superb job fine-tuning and moulding Cocteau's tantalizing vision of art, death and love. The film is technically brilliant, the trick shots superbly pulled off and the atmosphere always compelling, involving the viewer, despite the latent abstract quality of the film.

This really is a film to lose yourself in; a lyrical feat of visual poetry with the majestic sense of dream. It is film fantasy as it all too seldom has been; sublimely imaginative and fluidly inventive.

Rating:- **** 1/2/*****


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