Reviews

Orphee

5

Jean Cocteau's shimmering 1949 masterpiece headlines an NFT season of his films - - and it's never looked better, courtesy of a pristine new print.

A magical reworking of the Orpheus myth, set in a France haunted by the German occupation, it sees the heftily coiffured Jean Marais play a beautiful young poet. Torn between life with his newly pregnant wife Eurydice (Marie Déa) and the allure of Death (María Casares), he journeys to the Underworld to find meaning and answers.

Probing artistic inspiration, Orphée startles with fetishistic costumes, gay iconography and some sublime effects (characters passing through mirrors and returning to life as time rewinds).

A poet, novelist, painter, sculptor and opium addict, Cocteau only had time to make a handful of films. Watch Orphée and ponder what might have been.

Film Details