Thursday, August 8, 2013

223. Orphee/Orpheus (1950)

Running Time: 95 minutes
Directed By: Jean Cocteau
Written By: Jean Cocteau
Main Cast: Jean Marais, Francois Perier, Maria Casares, Marie Dea, Edouard Dermithe
Click here to view the trailer


Writing this from the laptop (as per usual nowadays) but not at the comfort of my desk chair, but rather with the laptop in my lap (imagine that) and sitting comfortably on my bed. Honestly, it seems very informal not to be sitting in my swivel computer chair right now, but lets see how this goes. "Orpheus" is the movie of the day and it's the first entry in THE BOOK for the 1950s. If everything goes as planned, the rest of the season will be filled out evenly with films from the 1950s and the 1990s.

Last season I watched "Black Orpheus" and therefore I was slightly familiar with the story of "Orpheus", although to be honest, I've almost entirely forgotten that film. The film starts with Orpheus (Marais), a famous poet, arriving at an outdoor coffee shop, to meet a friend. The friend chit chats with him a bit and points out another poet, up and comer Cegeste (Dermithe). Turns out Cegeste is drunk, one thing leads to another and Cegeste is run over by a couple of bikers. Cegeste's handler, the Princess (Casares), has the limp body of Cegeste loaded into her car and calls for Orpheus to join them, since he witnessed the whole thing. Orpheus agrees and he's plunged into a world of mystery. The two return to the Princess' mansion, where she meets up with the two bikers that ran Cegeste down and then proceeds to seemingly raise Cegeste from the dead. Orpheus doesn't know what to make of any of this and before he knows it, he's plunged back into the real world, where he's to return home to his wife, Eurydice (Dea). There, he just isn't himself anymore, being very short with Eurydice. He's accompanied by Heurtebise (Perier), a chauffeur for the Princess, who we find out is actually Death - the Princess Death. Orpheus becomes obsessed with secret messages coming from the car radio and reuniting with the Princess Death. Later, Death comes and takes Eurydice and the only way to get her back is for Orpheus to go into the "other world" via a mirror (the means of travel for Death, ghosts and other supernatural beings). It turns out that Death and Orpheus have romantic feelings for one another, as does Heurtebise for Eurydice. It's just one big supernatural love quadrangle.

You know, I started this movie on Monday night and made it about fifteen minutes in before realizing I was too tired and calling it quits. The following night, Tuesday night, I tried again, got about forty minutes in this time and once again got too tired to give it my proper attention. So, last night, I was finally able to finish it off and as much as I really wanted to like this one, I got the sense that I just wasn't in the mood for it. I never flat out said to myself, "Man, I'm just not in the mood for this", but I just could never quite settle into the picture and that must have been the ultimate problem. Honestly, there wasn't a lot of bad here: the actors were superb, to say the least; the special effects were ahead of their time; the dialogue was quotable, real and poetic, yet not too poetic, the photography was great and the story was good without too much resembling a fairy tale (like "Beauty and the Beast"). I just don't have a lot of criticisms for "Orpheus", yet I still found myself continually checking the time to see when the film was going to be over and I'm really not sure why. I think it was a case of me just not being in the mood for the film at the time and honestly, this one REALLY deserves a rewatch someday, when I can get more into it. Honestly, I wouldn't mind checking out the entire "Orphic Trilogy", especially if it shows as much potential as this. For now, I'll leave it at that. I'm just sort of at a loss for words on this one, as it showed so much potential, yet still, somehow left me with a dry taste in my mouth.

RATING: 6/10  Definitely deserves a rewatch someday. I really can't tell if I was flat out bored by it or just not in the mood for it. It was definitely a feeling I don't walk away from movies with often.


August 8, 2013  2:31pm


  1. MMMmmm.. I'm not sure what to say..
    I struggled with this, in a similar way, having to start again.. and being a bit lost by some of the weirdness..
    I did actually do the full set, and I'm afraid I'm struggling to remember the others.. or at least separate them out.
    I was left with a very similar feeling of 'Was I bored.. ?'. Sounds a strange thing to say, but I know what you mean.
    Decidedly one for a re-match.

    1. Wow, then what is it about this movie that leaves viewers with that sort of sour taste in their mouth? Definitely an odd one that I still can't quite put my finger on, opinion wise.


SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #66: La piscine/The Swimming Pool (1969)

Running Time: 120 minutes Directed By: Jacques Deray Written By: Jean-Claude Carriere, Jacques Deray, Alain Page Main Cast: Alain Del...