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Testament of Orpheus (1960)

Le testament d'Orphée, ou ne me demandez pas pourquoi! (original title)
Not Rated | | Biography | 18 February 1960 (France)
The Poet looks back over his life and work, recalling his inspirations and obsessions.

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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. See more awards »
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Storyline

The poet Jean Cocteau is lost in space-time. He has been in the 18th century and is now turning up at different moments in professor Langevin's life. The professor has invented some bullets, which travel faster than light. With one of them he kills Cocteau, who is resurrected as his old self, but is still caught in the space between fantasy and reality. At a gypsy camp a woman saves a photo out of the fire and restores it. On the photo Cocteau recognizes Cégeste from his film Orphée. He tears the photo into pieces and throws it into the sea. Immediately Cégeste himself jumps out of the water. He brings Cocteau to a rogatory commission led by Heurtebise and The Princess from the film Orphée. Cocteau admits that he has constantly attempted to enter a world which is not his own, a world that is beyond the limits of man, and that disobedience is like a religion for him. The commission imposes on him the sentence of life. In a hall inside some stone ruins the goddess Athena kills Cocteau ... Written by Maths Jesperson {maths.jesperson1@comhem.se}

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18 February 1960 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Le testament d'Orphée  »

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1.37 : 1
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Trivia

In his essay on this film, Cocteau says: I would emphasize that this film is the contrary of an intellectual or "art" film. I should like to be able to say: "I don't think, therefore I am." All thought paralyzes action. And a film is a succession of acts... In Le Testament d'Orphée, events follow one another as they do in sleep... See more »

Quotes

Cégeste: It's no use. An artist always paints his own portrait. You'll never paint that flower.
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Connections

Follows Orpheus (1950) See more »

Soundtracks

Orphée et Eurydice
Composed by Christoph Willibald Gluck
(1762)
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User Reviews

 
Jean Cocteau brilliantly evokes memories of his past triumphs!
15 September 2007 | by See all my reviews

French national treasure Jean Cocteau's last film is as personal and private as it's title suggest. Le Testament d'Orphee is a fond farewell to cinema with it's free-flowing, spirited collection of images and scenes that includes characters from Cocteau's past films and personal friends. One would hardly imagine a cinematic poet like Jean Cocteau would be so crass as to make something like a mere sequel to his acclaimed Orpheus/Orphee (1950). And instead what Cocteau does is to give us perhaps cinema's first meta-film. The film itself is an autobiographical fantasia of his whole life. Playing various versions of himself, Cocteau glides through the film as a time traveler in search of his place in the universe. He called it an active poem.

The film was shot on location at Les Baux in the South of France, a landscape whose rough limestone canyons appealed to Cocteau even more than Greece. Francine Weinweller and the main crew put up at that gourmet's mecca, the Hostellerie de la Baumaniere. Francine had a costume part in the film as La Dame qui s'est trompe d'epoque. All the icons out of Cocteau's past were woven into the visual testament - mirrors, horses, flowers, tapestries, and many of his friends - Dermit, Marais, Yul Brynner, Picasso and his wife, among others, appeared.

Unfortunately for Cocteau, public and critics, weaned on the literature of commitment popularized by Sartre and Camus, turned their backs on Le Testament d'Orphee, finding it a self-serving celluloid relic, oddly out of step with the times. One voice, however, and an important one, praised the film. Young Francois Truffaut, winner of a large prize for his film Les Quatre Cents Coups, had turned the money over to Cocteau to help finance Le Testament. Truffaut liked the finished product, which he considered a remake, thirty years later, of Le Sang d'un Poete. Truffaut was not alone in seeing Cocteau, judged by his previous films, as one of the main precursors of New Wave filmmakers.

Le Testament d'Orphee is a misunderstood masterpiece. Brilliant!!!!


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