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Orpheus (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (1950)

Jean Marais , Francois Perier , Jean Cocteau  |  Unrated |  Blu-ray
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jean Marais, Francois Perier, Maria Casares, Marie Dea, Henri Cremieux
  • Directors: Jean Cocteau
  • Format: Blu-ray, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: August 30, 2011
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005152CBE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #49,482 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack

Audio commentary by French film scholar James Williams

Jean Cocteau: Autobiography of an Unknown, a 1984 feature-length documentary

Video piece from 2008 featuring assistant director Claude Pinoteau on the special effects in the film

40 Minutes with Jean Cocteau, an interview with the director from 1957

In Search of Jazz, a 1956 interview with Cocteau on the use of jazz in the film

La villa Santo-Sospir, a 16 mm color Cocteau film from 1951

Gallery of images by French film portrait photographer Roger Corbeau

Raw newsreel footage of the Saint-Cyr military academy ruins, a location used in the film

Theatrical trailer

PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by author Mark Polizzotti, selected Cocteau writings on the film, and an essay on La villa Santo-Sospir by Williams


Editorial Reviews

This 1950 update of the Orphic myth by Jean Cocteau (Beauty and the Beast) depicts a famous poet (Jean Marais) scorned by the Left Bank youth, and his love for both his wife Eurydice (Marie Déa) and a mysterious princess (Maria Casarès). Seeking inspiration, the poet follows the princess from the world of the living to the land of the dead through Cocteau’s famous mirrored portal. Orpheus represents the legendary Cocteau at the height of his abilities for peerless visual poetry and dreamlike storytelling.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "From Now On You Belong to the Other World" September 7, 2011
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I enjoy studying "Orpheus", my favorite of Cocteau's films for its sheer originality, cryptic whimsy, audio-visual conceptual risks, and superb musical score by Georges Auric. Each time I see it, more is revealed to me, thanks to the richness of the details and the underlying subtext. The picture switches effortlessly between "real-world life" and "dream world / underworld reality". This film features trick shots and special effects that are simple, yet state of the art for their time (as is also the case in "La Belle et La Bête"): rubber gloves, that grant one entrance to the Underworld, by means of walking through mirrors; mirrors with watery surfaces; broken mirrors reassembling; the Princess ("La Mort"--María Casares) disappearing and reappearing; mysterious sequences of numbers and abstract poetry fragments emanating from the Princess' car radio.

Although all the performances are excellent, María Casares is the star of this film, with her strong, take-charge, no-nonsense approach. Conversely, she is also vulnerable, and ultimately pays the price, for misusing the privileges of her power, by falling in love with Orpheus (Jean Marais). The Princess' assistant, Heurtebise (François Périer), is introduced as a vaguely sinister presence, but is soon revealed to be a sympathetic character; he falls in love with Orpheus' wife, Eurydice (Marie Déa). In the end, in an act of compassion, the Princess and Heurtebise are punished for returning Orpheus and Eurydice to the world of the living.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Format:Blu-ray
In French cinema, there are many filmmakers named Jean Renoir, Jean Vigo, Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Melville, to name a few. But among these filmmakers who really never craved the spotlight was Jean Cocteau. A proud man with humility and creative talent that extends beyond cinema.

Before Cocteau was a playwright, a screenwriter, a director...he was one of the most prestigious, talented poets living in France.

At a young age, similar to Jean Vigo who suffered through pain throughout his childhood after the death of his father, Jean Cocteau lived a different life. Coming from a prominent family, like Vigo, at a young age, Jean Cocteau lost his father (who committed suicide).

Where a filmmaker like Vigo had cinema at a young age to escape reality, Cocteau had poetry.

In fact, his first volume of poems titled "Aladdin's Lamp" was created at the age of 19 and would eventually become popular through his poetry.

But it was World War I which changed Cocteau. He would meet poet Guillaume Apollinaire, artist Pablo Picasso and Amedeo Modigliani and would later collaborate with many talents which include Russian choreographer Sergei Diaghilev, who persuaded the poet to write a scenario for his ballet "Parade" in 1917.

As one of the great poets, the introduction to writing for a ballet would lead him to writing and directing plays but also novels. Among the novels he is known for are "Les Enfants Terribles" (1929), "The Blood of the Poet" (1930), "Les Parents Terribles" (1948), "Beauty and the Beast" (1946) and "Orpheus" (1949).
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
Jean Cocteau explored the myth of Orpheus three times. This second of his trilogy("Orpheus" 1949) stars Jean Marais as the young poet Orpheus; married to the lovely Eurydice. Orpheus' friend Cegeste is killed in a traffic accident, but the Princess of Death revives the young man. Cegeste and the Princess pass into the Underworld. Orpheus receives messages from Cegeste's spirit via a car radio(?), and visits from the Princess. Meanwhile Orpheus' wife enters into an affair, and is also struck down and killed. Enough drama? Now enchanted, Orpheus falls in love with the Princess, the glamorous Incarnation of Death. The narrator, Cocteau, implies "You look at yourself in a mirror all the time. And you see Death at work. Mirrors are the doors through which Death comes and goes..."In "Orpheus", Cocteau escorts us through his magic-mirror portals to Hades; nothing more than modern, bomb-ravaged Paris. Reverse photography, slow-motion, and rear projection provide cinema illusion resolving back to his "La Belle Et La Bete(1946)", also starring Jean Marais, Cocteau's one-time lover. Jean Cocteau was a French poet, novelist, playwright, and filmmaker. Tragic himself, his father committed suicide when Cocteau was ten. Disallusioned, Cocteau became addicted to opium, and wrote "Les Enfants Terribles" during the worst of his drug crisis. Cocteau died of a heart attack in October 1963, and is buried beneath the floor of the Chapelle Saint Blaise Des Simples in Milly-la-Foret. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh, yeah!
What can I say that others haven't? This is a wonderful print of a marvelous movie. Beautifully clear image and audio. Cocteau at his best.
Published 4 days ago by Bradford Needham
5.0 out of 5 stars Another gem
You just can't miss with the Criterion Collection, and this is one of my favorites. The print is just marvelous, and the special effects remind us that directors created special... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Linda J Tessier
1.0 out of 5 stars Unable to watch
Nothing worse than having the DVD break when trying to extract it from the case. There was no release to get the DVD out! Very poor case construction.
Published 2 months ago by Kathleen E Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars Can a Person Fall in Love...With Death ?
For as long as I remember, I watch this film every 5 years. Something about the imagery pulls me into its alternative world, unlike any other movie I have experienced. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Gerard D. Launay
5.0 out of 5 stars A better transfer
I ordered the Criterion ORPHEE because I was dissatisfied with the British Film Institute edition, which is clearly unrestored. Read more
Published 9 months ago by A. Baker
5.0 out of 5 stars Cocteau Orpheus
This is a very good (but fairly dated) Cocteau film, but probably not as good as his Beauty and the Beast.
Published 10 months ago by R. Larson
4.0 out of 5 stars A favorite
Showed it to my 15 year old daughter who thought it was "really cool", so do I.The Criterion collection version is clear and the sound is probably the best it gets for... Read more
Published 13 months ago by john
5.0 out of 5 stars A Poet's Film
Jean Cocteau was a genius, doing film not by the books, breaking barriers, giving us the unexpected. I loved this film and Beauty and the Beast when I saw both in the mid 70s. Read more
Published 14 months ago by J. Adamick
4.0 out of 5 stars great, imaginative, thought provoking, really enjoyed it.
This movie was very entertaining. I intend to pursue others by the same producer/director. Very imaginative and thought provoking. Plan to watch it again.
Published 15 months ago by rap
5.0 out of 5 stars Nether-this and nether-that....
Jean Cocteau pulls out his usual bag of tricks to create a film that rivals his magnificent Beauty and the Beast (1946). Read more
Published on April 15, 2012 by Dr. Morbius
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