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Le testament d'Orphée, ou ne me demandez pas pourquoi!
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Testament of Orpheus More at IMDbPro »Le testament d'Orphée, ou ne me demandez pas pourquoi! (original title)

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17 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Cocteau's transcendent sense of wonder shines brightly.

Author: Alph-2 from Sydney
25 February 1999

Jean Cocteau's final filmic flight of fantasy is very special indeed.

Adopting the guise of a poet 'unstuck in time', Cocteau ranges over his life in the world of poetry. It's a phantasmorgorical whirl of imagery, with plenty of humour, pathos and an enormous, transcendent sense of wonder. There's also a trial sequence where the characters from his earlier success 'Orphee' try him for bringing them into existence !

Some of Cocteau famous friends feature in brief cameos. Look out for Picasso and Bardot.

You don't have to be a Cocteau fan to enjoy this movie. All you need is an interest in the nature of creativity and an enjoyment of poetry, symbolic art, and the wonderfully cinematic music of Georges Auric, who scored all Cocteau's major films.

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13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Jean Cocteau brilliantly evokes memories of his past triumphs!

Author: Spent Bullets from Chinatown, California
15 September 2007

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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14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

the summit of surreal

Author: luminous_luciano
11 February 2004

While clearly not the first in its eclectic genre, this classic is definitely a great round-up of all that is surreal - all that the ''mechanics'' of both surrealism as those of dream can be deemed to be all about... Said mechanics fascinated Cocteau, to the point that he had to make this, his final film, a very original ''sequel'' of sorts to his classic ORPHÉE. If only all sequels since had been so original!

The cameos are indeed plentiful as also unexpected; many great stars of 1959 show up, from all fields as all continents! In this, the movie has a time capsule quality that only adds to its surrealness...

Most amazing though is the cameo that is not and could have been; Chaplin, who admired Cocteau -and it was mutual- through the language barrier and everything else that separated them... They had met on a cruise and greeted each other as brothers, though unable to exchange a single word almost... Surely he would have accepted to don the clothes of the Tramp one more time for this unique film... What a surreal addition to an already singular film it would have been! Although, on that cruise, through interpreters, Chaplin had confided that he was sad that he had become rich while playing a poor man... Cocteau admired him all the more for that...

Throughout "Le Testament d'Orphée", the film-goer has the impression of walking through someone else's dream - the director's dream. It is the goal of every film director to have his or her audience view things as if through the director's own eyes - well, I don't think anyone has ever succeeded quite like Cocteau did in this one, his cinematographic swan song as it was as well...

Le Testament d'Orphée is thus highly recommended for so many reasons; Bergman fans as well as those left unimpressed somehow by "Un Chien Andalou", because it was too short; those few will undoubtedly appreciate the long treatment given to this by the master, Jean Cocteau...!

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15 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

This movie shows what a movie can be and should be.

Author: Mukil Li from India
10 August 2004

Although the elements involved in the last part of the trilogy (of course it's a trilogy!) are same, the movie is brilliant in the way it deal and approaches with a poet's final years. I loved the self-reference to the earlier versions and to Jean cocteau himself. The film touches A film inside a film, a stage inside a stage, a life inside a life, a body inside a body and ofcourse a world inside a world. This is a "timeless" classic. No pun intended. This just my first viewing, I intend to see it again and again. One interesting thing (a speculation) is the BULLET from the future world. I wonder whether James cameroon got inspired from this idea to come up with "The Terminator".

Personally, I was always interested by the idea of NO TIME. This movie touches the possible cyclic nature of the time and sometime it even goes even further suggesting that -- ALL TIMES reside within ONE or NONE -- Well we're not supposed to understand it :) I loved the dig at intellectuals.

I would recommend this movie to all surrealist and anybody who has the eternal question -- WHY?! This movie is not an answer nor it asks question. Just OBEY the natural laws and see the movie :)


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12 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Film Poetry.

Author: Alejandro Dávila ( from Aguascalientes, México
9 August 2001

Cocteau, as an authentic reinassance man, shown the world how poetry could be inside everything. In this film, a real testament Cocteau delivers us his whole original world, that one that he constructed from life experiences. His unique craft never needed big budgets, Cocteau creates the magic taking a flower and primary cinema f/x. Thats all, what you see on the screen is just poetry.

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Another magical and surreal movie from Jean Cocteau

Author: TheMarquisDeSuave from Worcester, MA
6 April 2008

"The Testament of Orpheus" is the last film by Jean Cocteau, and even if it isn't as mind blowing as either "Orpheus" or "Beauty and the Beast", its still a captivating and dreamlike work of art. Jean Cocteau plays himself, "The Poet", who wanders into a bizarre landscape (not unlike that in "Orpheus") inhabited by various creations of his who blame him for their misfortunes. While if most other artists attempted to make a film like this, it would come off as showy egotism, Cocteau manages to make it feel as anything but. He raises some interesting questions about the nature of art and the importance of the artist to modern society. Also, the film is remarkably original, possibly the first true "meta-movie" ever made.

On a technical level, this is exquisite as well. Cocteau's direction is wonderfully magical and surreal. His special effects and camera tricks are always a highlight of his work. Hes obsessed with presenting many simplistic tricks that are easy to figure out but carry a true sense of otherworldly beauty. Even if one isn't interested in Cocteau's intellectual quest, they'll be captivated by the visuals themselves. The addition of several entertaining cameos (including Yul Brunner and Pablo Picasso) is only the icing on the cake. Cocteau creates surreal art films that are never boring, which is quite rare. (8/10)

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

A Unique Contribution to Film

Author: mphilipm from United States
24 December 2008

While I had surely seen the second film in Cocteau's Orpheus trilogy if not the first as well, I suspect I was in no position to appreciate any of what Cocteau accomplished. Now I'm about the same age he was when he did the Testament. I remember the time period for the second and third pictures, having grown up in it. But how all three of these films really transcend time as Cocteau is trying to show you works of art should! I had to rely on the subtitles for the sense of the lines but it was no matter. I don't remember anything else like these films. They are political to the extent they lobby for the poet's point of view. And in spite of the black and white and old prints their effect is most striking. Orpheus Descending and Testament sometimes look like the inspiration for Rebel Without a Cause. And Testament has some pithy comments on modern technology and the short comings of air travel that seem funnier and more relevant today. And toward the end of Testament, having the red blood and the red hibiscus in this black and white movie--how many times has that been imitated by computer technology? But it is what the poet saw then, not what technology makes commonplace and commercial today.

On the discs for Blood of the Poet and Testament are two separate bonus features, documentaries of Cocteau in fading Technicolor--but oh how interesting they are as well. At some point Cocteau says it was Picasso who taught them all to see. But what a treasure trove of talent Paris produced in the first half of the twentieth century. I hope this kind of sharing of artistic discovery can take place on the internet. Maybe it is already happening and I just don't know it. But I do know people who care for serious--but not heavy and sometimes witty--artistic expression, let alone movies, should see all three of these movies and the docs which accompany them.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:


Author: depot-5 from France
1 March 2010

This kind of movie is very difficult to rate. It can't compete with any IMDb's top 250 movies. No Godfather, no Dark Vador, no Indiana Jones. Not a feelgood movie, not a buddy movie... not any f... blockbuster movie.

Well. Let's face it : not anybody's movie. It's just a f... masterpiece about Poetry. That's why it's not ranked, but still pretty well rated for such an old movie. Films like this don't exist anymore. Maybe poets like this don't exist anymore. Maybe Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast is easier, and a better choice to start with Cocteau's Film works, but I think this one is mesmerizing. Also, Cocteau's "Le Sang d'un Poete" from 1930 is maybe a great movie for surrealist films fans. But Le Testament dOrphee is Cocteau's last effort and for me it sums up and benefits all. A testament and a masterpiece.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The Last Laugh And Testament of Jean Cocteau

Author: Gary170459 from Derby, UK
5 October 2014

Ever since I first saw Orphee decades ago I thought it one of world cinema's Greats, a work of Art and underplayed panache that literally transcends Time. That was Part 2 of Jean Cocteau's Orpheus cycle in 1949 – in 1932 Part 1 Le Sang D'un Poete set the scene in a whimsical primitive way, and Testament was the convoluted Part 3 which became his final film released in 1960. First thing – if you enjoyed Orphee I recommend not watching this immediately afterwards, it's a contrast between gold and brass. Second thing - if you don't like pretentious art films this is a special case, it's still by far the best pretentious film I've ever seen and worth watching for its self-confidence. If you do like pretentious art films then to come clean I'm one of the denser people so disparaged by the previous exalted commenter therefore I have nothing I can impart to you. I've always considered this only as Cocteau's Testament – it's all about him and his thoughts of posterity at 70.

Cocteau as film maker and poet stands between two worlds accused of being guilty of Innocence and is condemned to Life while his last film makes itself around him. There's a lot more to it, involving going backwards forwards and sideways in Time and Timelessness with or without trick photography, all of the cast large or small spouting cod-heavy aphorisms with gossamer realism or relevance. It gave him a chance to revisit the subject, and as he admitted at the end of the film to give some of his old friends (Casares, Perier, Dermithe etc) a job in the revisiting – after all, he was by now to use his own words from Orphee now "rotten with success" and could get away with murder. He died twice in here – even the Motorcyclists Of Death only wanted his autograph - and he lived and died to tell the tale. I can see where Banksy got his inspiration for his recent Mobile Phone Lovers from. I take away the image of Cegeste's image being saved from backward burning only for the image to be torn to pieces, that cerebral scene was worth the eighty minutes! The twenty minute wordy trial scene gets tiresome as you gradually realise its pointlessness apart from the padding out of the temporal running time. But there's plenty of tremendous imagery and heavy moralising throughout; Cocteau was incredibly talented, big on surrealism the occult and symbolism of all kinds, all more or less intellectual dead ends and as with many other big thinkers full of mumbo jumbo before and since he agonised over the merits and demerits of the Catholic Church, another dead end. Whereas with Orphee he made a film that could be enjoyed over the generations by all kinds of people with various levels of brainpower he created here a film so obscure it only plays like an in-joke raspberry to the world of the end of his life.

So there you are – I do quite like Le Testament D'Orphee so hopefully Cocteau won't be sad wherever he is, it's just I'm not a poet and have an old nose for Art and Artifice. No matter how unique or interesting this film is to me or even for that matter to those of a higher intellect, he was simply having a laugh.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Symbolic surrealism

Author: Red-Barracuda from Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
7 April 2012

I haven't seen any other features from Jean Cocteau, so many of the subtleties and references were lost on me. As such I didn't entirely understand all that occurred. It seems to be the final part in a loose trilogy of films based around the myth of Orpheus. In it, Cocteau himself plays a time-travelling poet, basically himself, who reflects on his life's works. He wanders a fantastical land and encounters various characters from his works of fiction. It's not a plot-driven film at all. It is more of a personal voyage of the director's. It was the last film he made and is clearly intended as a swansong, and a summary of his work.

The film often works best when it is at its most surreal. Many of the effects are extremely simple, yet beautifully executed. For instance the part where Cocteau reconstructs the flower bit by bit is very nice; likewise when Orpheus leaps out of the sea. Towards the end there is even a very striking invasion of the colour red, that can't help but be very memorable imagery. There are moments of the bizarre sprinkled throughout the picture. Like Cocteau himself says it is all cinematic poetry. Most of it was over my head I have to say but it was an interesting watch all the same.

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