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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.

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

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 »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

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

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.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Brows Held High: Beauty and the Beast: Part 1 (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
A Unique Contribution to Film
24 December 2008 | by mphilipmSee all my reviews

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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