Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Jean Cocteau: Le testament d'Orphée, ou ne me demandez pas pourquoi! Take One

Jean Cocteau's Le testament d'Orphée, ou ne me demandez pas pourquoi!* (1960) is the final installment of his "Orphic Trilogy." Essentially, Orpheus is a stand-in for all poets and artists, and Testament of Orpheus is a gently irreverent look back, forward and every which way. As such, it's not quite as coherent as Orpheus (1950), but is still interesting to consider. One thread of this mostly black-and-white film sees "the Scientist" appearing and disappearing almost as much as "the Poet," Cocteau himself, who seems to arrive from 1770 into 1959, at first thinking it's actually the year 2209. In another scene, a tribunal consisting of the Princess/apparent avatar of death (María Casares) and Heurtebise (François Périer), with Underworld poet-guide Cégeste (Edouard Dermithe) as a witness, questions Cocteau and also the Scientist. The first three are characters from the 1950 Orpheus, now ten years older -- a bit trippy in their own right. "Where we are now there is no 'here.'" So it is noted. Also: "We are nowhere."

Above is pictured the fame-machine, or art-culture and commerce nexus. The Scientist has already noted this of the Poet: "I'd say he was a poet and therefore indispensible -- though to what, I'm not sure." Coming across the ticket-streaming phantasm, Cocteau quips to Cégeste, "Fame for anyone in a minute or two," or perhaps it's "Fame for anyone *for* a minute or a two." The connection to Andy Warhol pretty much leaps out at you when you think about it -- the "fifteen minutes" quip, "officially" dating from 1968, in Stockholm, Sweden: "In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes."  So it should not be too surprising to learn that Warhol (1928-1987) created a series of prints depicting Cocteau (1889-1963), or that he clearly liked Cocteau's work and persona. Yet few people seem to have highlighted the connection, from what I can tell so far, at least in the wider culture.

Today's Rune: Partnership.  *The Testament of Orpheus, or Don't Ask Me Why!


jodi said...

Erik-when it comes to Warhol, it's a case of 7 degrees of separation!

Charles Gramlich said...

Since I don't watch a lot of films, the ones that don't follow the kind of standard film stortelling style often loose me. I kind of had the same problem learning how to read comics, since they don't follow the prose pattern. I should expand my experiences, no doubt