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April 14-16, 2006

The Orphic Trilogy

This program is co-presented with the American Repertory Theatre
who present
Orpheus X, running March 25 - April 23. 

Special thanks to French Cultural Services.

April 14 (Friday) 7 pm
April 16 (Sunday) 7 pm 

The Blood of a Poet

Directed by Jean Cocteau
France 1930, b/w, 58 min.
With Lee Miller, Pauline Carton, Odette Talazac
French with English subtitles

In his first foray into film, artist and poet Jean Cocteau created this vivid and highly personal portrait of “the poet’s inner self,” filled with signature images of beauty, suffering, and renewal. While composed in four distinct episodes, the action of the film ostensibly takes place in the brief moment between the collapse of a chimney and its hitting the ground. 


Orpheus (Orphée)

Directed by Jean Cocteau
France 1950, b/w, 95 min.
With Jean Marais, Marîa Casares, Marie Déa
French with English subtitles

In this mesmerizing modern version of the Greek myth, Orpheus (Marais) is a modern-day poet who, like Cocteau himself, worrieds that his verso will not bring him immorality, and that other poets, younger and superficial ones, are scorning his talents. (What would Cocteau have thought of poetry slams?)  But abruptly, the movie slides into the through-the-mirror Underworld, like Alice dropping into the rabbit hole.  It’s all mysterious and utterly magical:  Orpheus’ pursuit of Eurydice (Déa) and his meetings with the Princess of Death (Cesarés).  The special effects are tiny by any standard, and yet they shimmer and shiver with nightmare luminosity.

The Testament of Orpheus

Directed by Jean Cocteau
France 1960, 35mm, b/w, 79 min.
With Jean Cocteau, Edouard Dermithe, Jean Marais
French with English subtitles

The Testament of Orpheus - Jean Cocteau’s final film and the third part of his Orphic Trilogy - is an intensely personal work. The film is self-portrait in which Cocteau reflects on his past as a poet, illustrator, writer, and filmmaker, and Cocteau (playing himself) uses the film to revisit his artistic obsessions. Those familiar with Cocteau’s work will recognize the appearance of his artistic creations throughout the film, as well as cameos by his friends (including Yul Brynner and Pablo Picasso) and collaborators (Jean Marais, Maria Casares). The Testament of Orpheus is a moving tribute to an artist and the immortality of his art.


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