Tag Archives: The Testament of Orpheus Cocteau

I Recognize This!

Okay, my TV set is not that old, it is at least digital. But since I don’t watch TV anymore, I have not yet upgraded to a flat screen TV.

Well, I did upgrade many years ago, but I let Mikey Rivera have it when he left me for another woman that he was deeply in love with. (No sour grapes here, gang!) But he loved that TV set and I was , just — what the fuck; I’ve lost everything else, just take the darn TV, too.

Anyway. Wow. I digress. And so quickly!

What I meant to focus on is that for the first time in over a year and a half, I sat in my family room this afternoon and watched a movie on my TV set. Actually, I watched a video. I still have a cool VCR. And a DVD player, too, even though all I ever really do anymore is stream stuff online. Still. I have all this stuff.

I was driving into town to get the groceries and I was listening to “The Lyre of Orpheus” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (posted below). It is a really cool song. (I know, I always say that everything Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds do is great, so just to preserve my credibility, one day I’ll talk about something they did that was lousy. Off the top of my head, I can’t think what that would be — and it wouldn’t be Nocturama because I actually like that, too.) But it’s a really cool song, and it’s of course, quite different from any version of the myth of Orpheus that you probably recall from school, and it made me think of Cocteau’s amazing film from 1950, Orphée. But then I also recalled Cocteau’s final film, Le testament d’Orphée,  from 1960, which was a movie that had astounded me when I first saw it 25 years ago.

I have the film on video and I wondered how I would respond to it all these years later, so I actually got it out, sat in my family room and watched it. (You can see the whole film for free online, but I wanted to watch my own video of it; the one that somehow embodies all my memories.) Here’s my favorite still from the film:

From Jean Cocteau’s final film, The Testament of Orpheus, 1960

Jean Cocteau wrote the film, starred in it and directed it. But a lot of really cool people make cameos in it, as well. Including Picasso.

This film reminded me of why I used to love the cinema and don’t really love it that much anymore. At least not in the same way. And I still love some of the wisdom in this film — one being that no matter what an artist tries to draw (or to create) he will always just draw himself.

And also that a time may come when your creations will stand in judgment of you.  (Here’s one minute of his character of Orpheus coming back to life to judge him.) (The actor here, Jean Marais, was Cocteau’s lover and celebrated Muse until Cocteau’s death.)

But overall, 25 years later, I found so much in the film that was really delightful and amusing. Plus, it was kind of a reawakening for me, in that I gradually remembered that I had seen every film that Cocteau had made; that I’ve read all his novels, and read (but never seen) most of his plays. I’d forgotten this about me. I used to love Cocteau.

It made me realize (regarding Tell My Bones) that, with the encouragement of the director, I was able to really let my imagination free itself from time and space and create a true piece of theater, as opposed to a linear “play.”

And now I see that dwelling underneath all that was this kind of Cocteau stuff that I used to just devour. So it was sort of illuminating. I guess not an accident that I took this movie out today and watched it.

I’m super excited, also, to finally say here that Tell My Bones now has a costume designer, a lighting designer, and a scenic designer.

I’m just really happy, gang. Okay, I’m going to get back to work here. Hope your evening has been splendid.