Testament of Orpheus

We hit up our last Jean Cocteau film this week to finish off his trilogy of artistic non-statements with the 1959 swan song Testament of Orpheus. Pat and I are so done with Cocteau and his insistence that nothing he does has meaning even while he forces metaphor and symbolism into every nook and cranny of his work. This one features Cocteau himself as protagonist being berated by supernatural beings for asking "Why?" Along the way we discuss Adam's own personal mythology -- it involves slaying dragons under modern-day Columbus -- and the failings of Pat's education regarding the lifespan of Pablo Picasso. Plus Yul Brynner's in this movie? I'm sorry, that should be an exclamation point.


Continuing into the weird world that is Jean Cocteau's definition of art this week we're talking about his 1950 interpretation of the Orpheus myth, transplanted this time to the coffee shops of the French poetry scene. Moving past that setting - which is inherently a turn-off for Pat - we have a nice conversation about what is probably my favorite of the Cocteau films we've seen.

This of course isn't the first time we've seen the tale of Orpheus adapted, but we try to give Cocteau's version a fair shake. We also move away from the tedious format of last week's episode, but that doesn't mean we stop thinking Cocteau is wrong about the nature of his own work.

The Blood of a Poet

Pat has little patience for modern art. I've got a little more. Jean Cocteau clearly does. His 1930 film The Blood of a Poet is a trip, and it's not one Pat or I was all that thrilled to take. To help us parse the film we do a little format experiment. Guiding our conversation is Cocteau himself via an essay he wrote about The Blood of a Poet upon the release of his later adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. We take Cocteau's explanation of the film paragraph by paragraph and discuss. It doesn't really help.

This also marks the point where a box set will cause our numbering system to be forever out of wack compared to Criterion's Spine numbers. Eventually it will be way off.