Vers une viropoetique: cinema de la crise et (de)limite du poetique dans le Testament d'Orphee [Towards a viropoetics: cinema in crisis and the limits of poetry in Cocteau's The Testament of Orpheus]

Benjamin Andreo

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Jean Cocteau s own voice seems to float over the opening sequence of The Testament of Orpheus (1960), the final episode of the orphic trilogy. In a ghostly voice-over, the poet seemingly haunting his own film, Cocteau describes his last film as a formidable vehicle of poetry . [...] The critical reception of the film has often focussed almost exclusively on its baroque, silly, facile or fastidious aspects. Although a certain lightness is recommended by Cocteau himself, there is no doubt that Walter A. Strauss s assessment goes too far: It is all meant not to be taken too seriously; it is more of a showpiece for Cocteau and some of his artistic endeavors (including the drawings) than a coherent film5. How then, can we reconcile this with the claim that the film is also a formidable vehicle of poetry ? Furthermore, how can we reconcile it with yet another precision given by the Poet himself in the film (Cocteau plays his own role): A film petrifies thought. It resuscitates dead acts. A film gives the appearance of reality to unreal things, it goes beyond our narrow limitations. [...]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359 - 374
Number of pages16
JournalNottingham French Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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