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Orpheus (1950)

Orphée (original title)
Not Rated | | Fantasy, Drama, Romance | 29 November 1950 (USA)
A poet in love with Death follows his unhappy wife into the underworld.

Director:

Jean Cocteau

Writer:

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

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Cast

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

Taglines:

Grand Prix de la Critique International Venice 1950

Genres:

Fantasy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

29 November 1950 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Orpheus See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jean-Pierre Aumont and Gerard Philippe were considered for the part of Orphee. 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 Lock Up: Change of Heart (1959) See more »

Soundtracks

Dance of the Blessed Souls -- from Orphée et Eurydice
Written by Christoph Willibald Gluck
See more »

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User Reviews

 
"Astonish us"
6 August 2006 | by SpondonmanSee all my reviews

Although this is definitely Jean Cocteau up to his old cinematic tricks, Orphee is beyond criticism as it's Art that has stood the test of time. And updated Classical Art at that. Keep your guard up and you won't get it. But drop your guard and it's still an astonishing film, an allegorical atmospheric magical poetic potboiler, and a film I've seen over 10 times over the decades without failing to admire its self-possession and panache.

Orphee is a self-obsessed cult poet, who gets immersed in writing down and publishing the cryptic word gems the Princess of Death's talking car tells him. "The bird sings with its fingers" is especially ridiculously impressive, but of course, all of this was a reference to Resistance methods during the War of disguising their intentions from the Nazis. Allegorical to ... what? During this period his wife Eurydice is murdered by the Princess, who fancies Orphee while Heurtebise her Underworld chauffeur fancies Eurydice. Hem. This is not only a four dimensional, but a multi-dimensional tour de force, travelling back and forth through the worlds of life and death. The intellectual complexities involved can be enormous, you can lose the plot by thinking too deeply about one line of dialogue, or why "Orpheus's Death" is coming through the mirror at night to look at Eurydice. On the other hand, you might view it all as totally ridiculous and pretentious and laugh out loud at some of the scenes - but that only makes you a realist and not a poet. Auric's dreamy music helps a lot, although Passport to Pimlico keeps coming to mind!

Cocteau revisited Orphee later on near the end of his life, but The Testament of Orphee unfortunately really was pretentious even if startlingly different for 1960 - to quote: "his life had decayed, rotten with success". But this is the Real Secret of Secrets - Orphee is an utterly unique treasure, conceived and executed by an irreplaceable talent - and his second best effort too, after Belle et la Bete! Worth the weight of its nitrate stock in gold.


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