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Testament of Orpheus (1960)

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

Director:

Jean Cocteau

Writer:

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

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Jean Cocteau ... Himself - the Poet
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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}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Biography | Fantasy

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

France

Language:

French

Release Date:

18 February 1960 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Le testament d'Orphée See more »

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Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,850
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Dedicated to the French New Wave. See more »

Quotes

Cégeste: Mirrors reflect too much. They pretentiously reverse images and think they are profound.
See more »


Soundtracks

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

Like watching some of Jean Cocteau's home movies after taking a couple hits of acid....
11 March 2012 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

My summary is NOT meant to be sarcasm but an accurate description of what I saw in "Testament of Orpheus". It really does play a lot like a home movie of Cocteau's--complete with his friends making guest appearances. A few of the more notable ones are Jean Pierre Leaud, Pablo Picasso and Yul Brynner. As for the plot, it's really hard to describe and it is VERY freaky. It's sort of like a combination of a dream, the life of Cocteau, time travel and Greek mythology all rolled into one very strange film. If you try to make sense of all this, it will probably make your head explode--and it seems pretty clear that Cocteau had no intention of making the film understandable or doing a traditional narrative. Because it is essential a vanity project and an art film, I really cannot rate it. However, I think I'm very safe in saying that the film probably holds no interest to the average viewer but is something best seen by Cocteau-philes and lovers of the avant garde or surreal.

As for me and my own opinion about the film's merits, I thought the project was very repetitive--though it did have a few moments of interesting introspection by Cocteau (who plays himself through the film). Sadly, though, despite his introspection, this is yet another Cocteau film in which he over-used slow-motion and rolled the film backwards again and again to achieve his artsy effects. Essentially, you see nothing new here in the way of techniques--having seen this is "Blood of a Poet" thirty years earlier. And, it does not have any sort of lasting appeal or a coherent story like "Orpheus" or "Beauty and the Beast" (his two masterpieces). Skipable if you ask me but a mildly (very mildly) interesting piece of performance art.


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