Friday, October 26, 2012

Jean Cocteau's Orphée / Orpheus: Take Three

Jean Cocteau's Orphée / Orpheus (1950) continues to creep into my thoughts and imagination. Early yesterday morning, one scene was transposed into a dream, a waxing moon pushing me out into REM sleep of some kind or another. In the dream, I was escaping a big storm or flood by canvas-covered military truck but later found myself detained and isolated in a room full of Scientologists. They would not allow me to leave or make calls. Eventually, I escaped and ran to freedom -- and woke up with the chills.

In Cocteau's film, there's a lot to delve into. One major strand gets into the "War of the Poets," rivalries of style and substance. There's also a split beteen the idea of being "a writer" and "a poet." Are they different entities, or overlapping?

Then there's the contested essence of art and aesthetics through publication. One minor exchange between an older writer and Orpheus the poet:

She's* not from here, but she needs to be among us. Here's her review.
Every page is blank!
It's called Nudism.
It's absurd.
Less absurd than if it were full of absurd writing.
No excess is absurd!

*The "Princess" (Maria Casarès, pictured above), an apparent agent or avatar of Death. In "real life," one of Casarès' paramours was no less a luminary than Albert Camus.

Juliette Gréco (pictured above) as Bohemian Aglaonice (Aglaonike in Greek), enemy of Orpheus and leader of the Bacchantes (or Maneads in Greek). In this particular Cocteau variant on the Orpheus myth, Eurydice is Aglaonice's friend and a former Bacchante herself, drawn into domesticity by Orpheus, who is now more absorbed than ever in the mysteries of creativity and art -- at times, to the point of sometimes comical neglect of everything else. What's remarkable about Aglaonike's character is how much more cagily she'd fit in today, in 2012, than in 1950, when Orphée / Orpheus was first released. In addition, there was a "real" Aglaonike, a noted astronomer/astrologer of her time (second century B.C., some 2100-2200 years ago) in Thessaly, Greece, one of the so-called "Witches of Thessaly." Watch out, more strange dreams may ensue . . .

Today's Rune: Journey.


Charles Gramlich said...

The haunted fortress that Scientology built. :)

jodi said...

Erik-I hate those dreams where you wake up with a start and are soooo relieved to be in your own, safe bed!