- LULU / PANDORA'S BOX
- DAPHNIS AND CHLOE
- FEDRA
- THE FUGITIVE KIND
- THE TESTAMENT OF ORPHEUS
- PHAEDRA
- HERCULES CONQUERS ATLANTIS
- YOUNG APHRODITES
- CONTEMPT
- PROMETHEUS FROM THE VISEVICE ISLAND
- SANDRA OF A THOUSAND DELIGHTS
- THE GOLDEN THING
- THE TRAVELLING PLAYERS
- EURIDICE BA 2037
- IPHIGENIA
- A DREAM OF PASSION
- CLASH OF THE TITANS
- THE YEARS OF THE BIG HEAT
- ENIOCHUS - THE CHARIOTEER
- ANTIGONE
- EDIPO ALCADE
- THAT'S LIFE
- BLADE RUNNER
- VERTIGO
- MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRA
- ORPHEUS
- PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN
- ULYSSES
- HERACLES AND THE QUEEN OF LYDIA
- BLACK ORPHEUS
- ANTIGONE
- ELECTRA
- JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS
- GORGON
- OEDIPUS REX
- ILLIAC PASSION
- THE CANNIBALS
- EDEA
- NOTES FOR AN AFRICAN ORESTEIA
- FOR ELECTRA
- PROMETHEUS IN THE SECOND PERSON
- VOYAGE TO CYTHERA
- ULYSSES' GAZE
- MATRIX
- O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?

THE TESTAMENT OF ORPHEUS
LE TESTAMENT D'ORPHÉE ou NE ME DEMANDEZ PAS POURQUOI
France, 1960


Directed by: Jean Cocteau. Screenplay: Jean Cocteau. Technical collaboration: Claude Pinauteau. Director of Photography: Roland Pointoizeau. Production designer: Pierre Guffroy. Costume design and sculptures: Janine Janet. Music: Georges Auric. Film editor: Marie-Josphe Yoyotte. Special effects: Pierre Durin. Cast: Jean Cocteau (Poet), Jean-Pierre Laud (Schoolboy), Maria Casars (Princess), Franois Perrier (Heurtebise), Edouard Dermit (Cgeste), Jean Marais (Oedipus), Henry Crmieux (Professor), Yul Brynner (Court usher), Claudine Auger (Athena), Pablo Picasso, Lucia Bos, Charles Aznavour, Brigitte Bardot, Daniel Glin, Franoise Sagan. Produced by: Jean Thuiller for ditions Cingraphiques. Duration: 80 minutes. Black and white.

The Poet, in a Louis XV costume, lost in the labyrinths of space and time, visits the Professor at different stages of his life (while an infant, a 13-year-old pupil, an old-dying man) until he manages to give him one of his future inventions: bullets that travel faster than the speed of light. The Professor shoots the poet with them and the latter is reborn in our times. He follows a man-horse and he meets Cgeste, the dead poet from the film Orpheus, who gives the Poet a dead flower. The Poet tries to draw it but instead of the flower, he sketches his portrait. Cgeste shows him the way to the Princess and Heurtebise, who like the judges in Orpheus force him to plea for his deeds and sentence him to "live". Later, the Poet and Cgeste wander in the courtyard of a countess, they find Isolde searching for Tristan, they meet with the dual nature of the Poet, who pretends not to have seen them. Finally, they meet the idol that lives on autographs by making someone famous in few (and for a few) minutes. Cgeste disappears and the Poet meets goddess Athena surrounded by men-horse. The goddess stabs the Poet with her spear and around his dead body, gypsies and friends gather. However, the Poet is reborn once more "since poets pretend to be dead". His continues his wandering, he meets the Sphinx and blind Oedipus, and he thinks that he sees the Angels of Death from Orpheus coming on their motorcycles, but instead, two policemen come and ask him to show them his papers. Cgeste appears through the rocks calling the Poet to follow him to another universe.

The Magic of Beginnings
by Alain Philippe

The Blood of a Poet, Orpheus and The Testament of Orpheus cover a 30- year period of Cocteau's work and trace his course in, what we name, the "orphic cycle" of the poet. Orpheus is the central link of this series being, at the same time, the most clear and narrative film of all three, as, in this one, Cocteau has used the entire Greek myth. The two other films framing Orpheus, (The Blood of a Poet and The Testament of Orpheus) by following a freer approach, shed light on the reasons the poet was so much attracted by this myth.
Because, if Orpheus is the original poet, he is, above all and at the same time, the one who crosses the frontier between life and death; he is the one who descends to the Underworld to find the woman he loves, knowing that he will not have the right to look at her. Beyond Cocteau's reasoning concerning Poetry or Immortality and beyond the somewhat brief unfolding of the trilogy's chapters (although sometimes they are enhanced by an ironic element), Cocteau offers us a guide to go through this trilogy.
Cocteau's ingenious approach lies in the fact that he confronted the myth of Orpheus as if cinema had already been invented. If Orpheus is largely based on the internal passage through the "zone" (this is name Cocteau gives to "no man's land", the limbo between life and death), in The Blood of a Poet Orpheus appears with his traditional characteristic, the lyre. However, the greatest emphasis is placed on the subject of the gaze, the passage and the initiation the three elements that characterize this trilogy.
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The Testament of Orpheus is a comeback to the free spirit that conceived The Blood of a Poet. Its logic is that of a dream (a very clear dream, free of the vagueness often typical of the idea of dream) and its rhetoric favours the metaphor (or the transposition) rather than the symbol: the spear that will kill the poet is accompanied by the sound of an airplane engine. The Poet "takes off". Liberated from any narrative obstacle, Cocteau is once again linked for the last time to everything he loved about cinema. The orphic concept, according to which "the poet must die several times in order to be reborn", is a theme Cocteau said that he had at his fingertips when making his first film; it is also a theme that was incorporated by the director in Orpheus. Here, the orphic concept has been incarnated through a distinct symphonic orchestration, revised and interpreted by Cocteau. Thanks to The Testament of Orpheus we feel the pleasure of recognising familiar subjects and heroes, but, here, they have been elevated and presented in an atmosphere of unlimited optimism. In the scenes where one would justly expect to see bitterness and sadness expressed by a man knowing that he makes his last film, the audience finds power and generosity; a valedictory speech with no tears. "I had thought that by changing tower, I would also change ghosts and that here, a flower would make them run away," says Cocteau in the film. Indeed, he tries to draw a flower but once more his own portrait appears in the painting. "Always the same Orpheus, always the same Oedipus." Always the Narcissus, he could have also added: Cocteau pretends to have discovered that a director always makes the film that draws his self-portrait. Knowing this, he plays with it, the same way he plays when he uses all of his tricks in order to offer his friends a brilliant death celebration; because, Cocteau is both a magician and a cunning personality. The Testament of Orpheus is a huge firework with a special brightness where words, sounds and images flare.
At the end of the film, in order to prove that he does not bear any grudges, Cocteau reverses his images by transfiguring Orpheus' black angels into harmless motorcyclists. When in the last scene we see the young men in a '60s car and listen to Cocteau saying, "A joyful wave comes to sweep away my valedictory film," we do not feel sorrow. Instead, we listen to the friendly salute of an older director to the young "nouvelle vague", which had just embarked on its film-making career and one of its members (Franois Truffaut) had provided Cocteau with the necessary means to make his last film: a reciprocally generous gesture. It is true that, not only Truffaut and his friends had saluted Cocteau quite early on as a master, but also Cocteau himself demonstrated a remarkable youthfulness until the end. "Nouvelle vague" was not the only movement that recognised Cocteau as a master; today, more young directors than before are grateful to this genius Renaissance man, who knew better than anyone else how to "shed light on his night".