Testament of Orpheus (1960)

Testament of Orpheus (1960)

“A film is a petrifying source of thought. It brings dead acts to life. It makes it possible to give apparent reality to the unreal.”

A time-traveling 18th century poet (Jean Cocteau) emerges in the 20th century and interacts with key figures from his previous film Orpheus (1950) — including the poet Cegeste (Edouard Dermithe) and the Princess of Death (Maria Casales).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Artists
  • Fantasy
  • French Films
  • Jean Cocteau Films
  • Time Travel
  • Yul Brynner Films

Jean Cocteau’s swan song was this installment in his “Orphic trilogy,” following The Blood of a Poet (1930) and Orpheus (1950). Unfortunately, it’s simply a rambling, self-absorbed affair, showcasing Cocteau’s obsession with being artistically “disobedient” and having a lasting cultural impact. In addition to bringing back characters from Orpheus (gee, they must be enduring characters if they suddenly appear again here!):

… Cocteau seems to want to show off how many cinematic friends and influences he has, featuring additional cameos by Jean-Pierre LĂ©aud:

… Pablo Picasso:

… and Yul Brynner:

Sadly, there’s little point to any of it; one hopes Cocteau at least enjoyed the process.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Some clever cinematographic moves

Must See?
No; you can skip this one unless you’re a diehard Cocteau fan.


One thought on “Testament of Orpheus (1960)

  1. First viewing. Agreed; skip it – unless you’re a Cocteau completist. ~ but, even if you are, this film requires quite a bit of patience. It does ultimately feel pointless.

    Still… I can see where David Lynch might love it.

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