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Orphee [1950] [DVD]

17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Jean Marais, Maria Casares, François Perier, Maria Dea, Edouard Dermithe
  • Directors: Jean Cocteau
  • Producers: Andre Paulve
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Bfi
  • DVD Release Date: 30 Aug. 2004
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002IAQDQ
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 134,993 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

In Jean Cocteau's updating of the Orpheus myth, Orphee (Jean Marais) is a famous poet whose obsession with a mysterious princess - representing death - and a series of cryptic radio broadcasts causes him to neglect his wife. When she is killed, the guilty poet travels to the Underworld to win her back - and to find the princess. `Orphee' is famous for its dreamlike quality, with images of mirrors and the Nazi occupation of France.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By "peterhoward11" on 9 Dec. 2004
Format: DVD
Self-obessessed and self-regarding Orphee, a poet, lives in splendid isolation with his beautiful wife Eurydice in post-war, bomb-damaged France. It is the early 50's and times are changing; Orphee is facing competition from a new wave of Poets and is scorned by the new generation. He goes into town with the intention of facing them down but to his rage, he is studiously ignored.
Their leader, the young Jacques Cegeste, is caught up in a bar-room brawl which spills out into the street and he is killed by a motorcyclist. Orphee, an innocent bystander, is taken away in a black limousine with the lifeless body of Cegeste by a beautiful and mysterious Princess to a deserted house. Here, time runs backwards and the way into the underworld lies through mirrors ("I give you the secret of secrets! Mirrors are the doorway through which death comes").
Orpheus falls in love with the Princess and so falls in love with his own death. Meanwhile, Orphee's absence is noted by the Police, who are advised by Cegeste's followers that he is responsible for the young poet's death.
Ultimately Orphee has to choose between between Death - the Princess - and Eurydice, after she is returned to the Underworld. He is wracked with indecision: the Princess eventually makes the decision for him.
This strange and beautiful film may seem familiar even if you are watching it for the first time as it has been referenced in many other films, as well as in pop videos: and yes, it was the image of Orphee (Jean Marais, Cocteau's lifelong lover) on the cover of The Smiths' This Charming Man.
There are many unforgettable images; Orphee, receiving fragments of poetry via his car radio ("The Bird counts with his fingers! Three times!
Read more ›
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By "topnotchtosh2" on 23 July 2004
Format: DVD
I remember first seeing Orphee at the Everyman Cinema in London sometime during 1986 and being completely blown away by it! In this age of sterile CGI effects, Cocteau's masterwork is still refreshingly eye-popping with its array of dazzling 'analog' visual set-pieces. The poet-director uses back-projection, reverse-camera tricks, sets built on their sides, etc to create a stunning and mesmerising depiction of a man's (literal) descent into hell. Like no other film before or since-- and more audacious than the critically favoured La Belle et Le Bete-- Orphee is long overdue its release on DVD.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By MarkusG on 18 Jan. 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
BFI recently (re)released Cocteaus classic "Beauty and the Beast" with excellent transfer, booklet and commentary track. With Orphee they have done it again. For a 60 year old film this looks remarkable, the booklet is informative and well written and the commentary seems competent (I have only listened to parts of it though).

About the film: Orphee is a very original film blending myth and reality. It is an adaptation of the Orpheus myth, but set in post war France. I really like the small means by which Cocteau creates special effects (slow motion, reverse, negative image), and it is remarkable how easy he introduces the magicial or mythical elements into the normal: Death as a woman in a black car, the underworld with it's bureaucracy, ghosts and so on. And his imagination is fantastic, for example the idea with the car radio (in Death's car) blurting out poems (in a robotic voice) which fascinates Orphee so much he has to sit in the car listening and try to scribble them down! This is a film I will watch again to see new aspects and details.

If you like "Beauty and the Beast" you will probably like Orphee.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By D. L. Ashcroft-nowicki on 13 Mar. 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
If you have read my review on La Bell et La Bete you know I am a fan of Cocteau's work.La Belle was a fairy tale with a happy ending. Orphee is darker, with an underlying theme that makes one think differently about death. The use of a "magic" mirror is typical of Cocteau's vivid imagination, as is the Female Death. The retelling of the ancient myth
has incredible impact especially on minds honed by magical training. If you are ever in London visit the tiny church of Notre Dame du Londres in a side st next to Prince of Wales theatre. Cocteau designed it and for pagans..look at the tapestry behind the altar.. Even the nun in the shop called her "Diana of the Beasts"Watch the film , read the myth, go andsee the Church.
Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki (SOL)
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 Aug. 2004
Format: DVD
Excellent film which is of the myth of the man who could not look at his wife as the price for getting her back from the dead, but set in 1949/50 France. The dead are taken to the underworld by the mysterious lady, and the motorbile riders - very evocative post WW2 treatment - and the special effects are stunning - all done without the benefit of modern techniques. I saw it at the cinema at a special showing recently (at the great Aldeburgh Cinema) and had only been able to source a dvd in Brazil (bizarre but true), and so seing this released in the UK is very welcome.
A Classic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By mel on 4 Nov. 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
If you look at films like "Inception" you'll see clear echoes of Cocteau's "Orphee" -Christopher Nolan must have studied it.
Although dated in some ways, Orphee paved the way for so much of modern cinema with its trick photography and in-camera special effects, long before the days of CGI. The story of the hero's journey in search of a mysterious woman is an old one, reinvented here as a riff on the poet's love affair with death: the creative struggle between living an ordinary, comfortable life or seeking extraordinary but deadly experiences that might take your work into a new dimension - or kill you.
Every scene was shot with an auteur's vision, with imagery that has been used again and again by other directors and artists - walking through a mirror, time-travelling with reverse shots and so on.
Cocteau made this film as France limped out of German occupation during the second world war, and the stark set and the trial scenes refer directly to the aftermath of war.
It's also about living on the threshhold of two worlds - not just dream versus reality but the political situation after a great war, the dawn of new writing, new fashion and new music with references to the jazz and emerging beatnik culture while Death's frocks are by Christian Dior.
There are so many layers to this film but in the end it's just a very simple story with beautiful, haunting music and it's worth just sitting back and enjoying the strange ride.
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