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Jean Cocteau - Le Testament d'Orphée

Jean Cocteau : Le Testament d'Orphée


Jean Cocteau - Le Testament d'Orphée


  • 1960
  • Producer: Jean Thuillier (les Editions Cinegraphiques)
  • Editor: Marie-Josephe Yoyotte
  • Director: Jean Cocteau
  • Scenario: Jean Cocteau
  • Cinematographer: Raichi
  • Sound: Bertrand
  • Cast: Jean Cocteau (poet), Edouard Dermit (Cegeste), Henri Cremieux (scientist), Yul Brynner (bailiff)
  • Filmed from September to October, 1959
  • Paris premiere: 1960
  • U.S. release: April 9, 1962
  • U.S. distributor: Brandon Films
  • A Film By: JEAN COCTEAU



Le Testament d'Orphee, the last film made by Cocteau, is a visual summing up of the poet's own life. In it Cocteau gazes, one after the other, into the multiple mirrors of his loves and his works, re-creating his personal myth. He called it "an active poem."

The film was shot on location at Les Baux in the South of France, a landscape whose rough limestone canyons appealed to Cocteau even more than Greece. Francine Weinweller and the main crew put up at that gourmet's mecca, the Hostellerie de la Baumaniere. Francine had a costume part in the film as La Dame qui s'est trompe d'epoque. All the icons out of Cocteau's past were woven into the visual testament - mirrors, horses, flowers, tapestries, and many of his friends - Dermit, Marais, Yul Brynner, Picasso and his wife, among others, appeared in Orphee II.


ORPHEUS DENIED

Unfortunately for Cocteau, public and critics, weaned on the literature of commitment popularized by Sartre and Camus, turned their backs on Le Testament d'Orphee, finding it a self-serving celluloid relic, oddly out of step with the times. One voice, however, and an important one, praised the film. Young Francois Truffaut, winner of a large prize for his film Les Quatre Cents Coups, had turned the money over to Cocteau to help finance Le Testament. Truffaut liked the finished product, which he considered a remake, thirty years later, of Le Sang d'un Poete. Truffaut was not alone in seeing Cocteau, judged by his previous films, as one of the main precursors of New Wave filmakers.



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