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Jean Cocteau's Orphic Trilogy : The Blood of a Poet (1959)
Director: Jean Cocteau
Category: Drama, Foreign
Studio: Criterion
225 mins



Decadent, subversive, and bristling with artistic invention, the myth-born cinema of Jean Cocteau disturbs as much as it charms.Cocteau was the most versatile of artists in prewar Paris.Poet, novelist, playwright, painter, celebrity, and maker of cinema - his many talents converged in bold, dreamlike films that continue to enthrall audiences around the world.In The Blood of a Poet, Orpheus, and Testament of Orpheus, Cocteau uses the Orphic myth to explore the complex relationships between the artist and his creations, reality and the imagination.

The Blood of a Poet
"Poets…shed not only the red blood of their hearts but the white blood of their sould," proclaimed Jean Cocteau of his groundbreaking first film -- an exploration of the plight of the artist, the power of metaphor and the relationship between art and dreams.One of cinema's great experments, the is first installment of the orphic trilogy stretches the medium to its limits in an effort to capture the poet's obsession with the forces of life and death.

Cocteau's beautifully inventive 1940's update of the Orphic myth depicts Orpheus (Jean Marais), a famous poet scorned by the Left Bank youth, and his love for both his wife Eurydice (Marie Dea) and the mysterious Princess (Maria Casares).Seeking inspiration, the poet follows the Princess from the world of the living to the land of the deceased through Cocteau's trademark "mirrored portal."

Testament of Orpheus
In his last film, Cocteau portrays an 18th-century poet who travels through time on a quest for divine wisdom.In a mysterious wasteland, he meets several symbolic phantoms that bring about his death and resurrection.Features an eclectic cast that includes Pablo Picasso, Jean-Pierre Leaud, Jean Marias and Yul Brynner.