Orpheus | Chicago Reader

Orpheus

95 minutes 1950

Jean Cocteau's surrealistic transposition of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice to postoccupation Paris, where Death (Maria Casares) emerges from memories of the Nazis. As Orpheus, Jean Marais is a projection of Cocteau himself, an established poet who feels the resentment of the younger generation of artists; by courting Death, he hopes to revitalize his work. This 1950 French feature is densely allusive and often imponderable in its use of cryptic, highly personal images, yet the dream atmosphere is so powerfully realized that the obscurities, rather than offending, contribute to the emotional effect. Cocteau's film technique is as eccentrically sui generis as ever—his apparent mistakes are often among his most expressive moments. With Marie Dea, Francois Perier, and Juliette Greco. In French with subtitles.

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