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Orphée (Orpheus) (1950)

tomatometer

96

Average Rating: 9.2/10
Reviews Counted: 25
Fresh: 24 | Rotten: 1

Heavy with symbolism and deliberately paced, Orpheus may not be for everyone -- but as an example of Jean Cocteau's eccentric genius, it's all but impossible not to recommend.

80

Average Rating: 7.5/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 1

Heavy with symbolism and deliberately paced, Orpheus may not be for everyone -- but as an example of Jean Cocteau's eccentric genius, it's all but impossible not to recommend.

audience

89

liked it
Average Rating: 4.2/5
User Ratings: 4,466

My Rating

Movie Info

Cinematic poet Jean Cocteau explored the myth of Orpheus on no fewer than three occasions: Le Sang d'Un Poete (Blood of a Poet, 1930), Orphee (Orpheus, 1949) and Le Testament d'Orphee (1960). This second of his "Orpheus" trilogy stars Jean Marais in the title role. Updated to contemporary Paris (albeit a Paris never seen before or since), the story concerns a sensitive young poet named Orpheus, who is married to the lovely Eurydice (Marie Dea). Orpheus' friend Cegeste (Edouard Dermit) is killed

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All Critics (25) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (24) | Rotten (1) | DVD (6)

Jean Cocteau's scripting and directing give the film its proper key of unworldliness.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Somnambulistic symbolism may be art for art's sake. Maybe not. This writer finds it slightly tiresome.

March 25, 2006 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Its tight cross-lacing of paranoid dreaming and poetic realism grips like a bondage corset.

February 11, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
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Cocteau's film technique is as eccentrically sui generis as ever -- his apparent mistakes are often among his most expressive moments.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
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Seeing Orpheus today is like glimpsing a cinematic realm that has passed completely from the scene.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A poet, novelist, painter, sculptor and opium addict, Cocteau only had time to make a handful of films. Watch Orphée and ponder what might have been.

December 7, 2012 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

A magical enduring classic, to be seen again and again.

December 7, 2012 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

Pretentious? Certainly, but full of the joy of filmmaking and there is a fairly coherent light through all the madness. It may illuminate man's obsessions and idol worship in a cautionary way, but Cocteau is also embracing those very ideas with his film.

October 27, 2011 Full Review Source: Scene-Stealers.com
Scene-Stealers.com

a paragon of magical realism that transports the ancient Greek myth into the then-modern realm of postwar France

September 12, 2011 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

If you're the kind of amateur existentialist who admires the ring of a sentence like "look a lifetime in a mirror and you will see Death at work", then this beautiful film is for you.

January 10, 2011 Full Review Source: SFX Magazine
SFX Magazine

Comes as close as cinema can to poetry.

October 20, 2006 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Cocteau's visual imagination, leading us through mirrors into a bomb-scarred dreamworld governed by the femme fatale of Death, is enduringly magical and strongly cinematic.

April 1, 2006 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Full of haunting imagery plucked from the realm of fairy tales, Orphée is one of the great cinematic fantasies of the 20th century.

March 16, 2004 Full Review Source: BBC.com
BBC.com

Notable for its vivid and inventive imagery, bringing the Greek myth of Orpheus to the present day with style and passion that's both poetic and realistically gritty

February 1, 2004 Full Review Source: Shadows on the Wall
Shadows on the Wall

A compelling cinematic allegory from one of the great artists of the twentieth century.

July 30, 2003 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

This is one of the most exquisite gems of cinema history. Cocteau's film of the Orpheus myth. Many moments are enchanting such as cryptic messages broadcast from a car radio.

July 5, 2003
Movie Magazine International

A fresh and fascinating treatment of an abiding myth.

May 24, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

Few films are as magical, and none are more haunting than this monumental work.

August 21, 2002 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Cocteau rarely fumbles here, which is remarkable considering what he is attempting.

March 5, 2002 Full Review Source: MovieMartyr.com
MovieMartyr.com

A film that defies the conventions of classical Hollywood films and became considered a work of art that transcends the traditional confines of the cinema.

January 1, 1950 Full Review Source: Cinema Autopsy
Cinema Autopsy

Audience Reviews for Orphée (Orpheus)

Orphee is visual treat, as you would expect from Jean Cocteau. Perhaps not as obvious as his other famous works but it's these subtleties that make it stand out even more. It's lovely to see the progression of ideas from some of his early works too, specifically Blood of a Poet. With bizarre statements such as 'Silence played backwards is three times as quiet' and the idea of death being a glamorous woman, I just can't help but love it?
July 6, 2010
SirPant

Super Reviewer

a modern (or at least 50s paris) retelling with beautifully simple effects; almost as magical as la belle et la bete. wonderfully poetic dialogue. gotta love the death bikers :p i read cocteau wanted garbo or dietrich for casares' part. that's fun to imagine.
November 16, 2009
rubystevens
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

A modern retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Eurydice dies and Orpheus goes to the underworld to bring her back, with the understanding that he can never look at her.

I heard raves about this and was excited about seeing it, especially knowing that director Jean Cocteau had directed the magical, brilliant La Belle et La Bete. But I was profoundly disappointed in this. Yes, the effects were interesting, but La Belle did them SO much better. The underworld, instead of seeming ominous and threatening, just seemed to be a dark street in a bad neighborhood. And finally, I just didn't buy that these characters had a love that transcended death itself. Vastly overrated. But maybe I'm just missing something.
November 16, 2009
webalina

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Orphée (DE)
  • Orpheus (Orphée) (UK)
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