In his last film, Jean Cocteau portrays an 18th-century poet who travels through time on a quest for divine wisdom. Testament of Orpheus brings full circle the journey Cocteau began in The Blood of a Poet, an exploration of the torturous relationship between the artist and his creations.
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Somehow, Cocteau's own creations have turned against him and sentenced him to trial. His crimes? Being too innocent and irresponsible as an artist, for shocking his audience by opening his heart to them, for being too sincere with his emotions as no one wanted to hear of gays in the 60s! His testament goes to the youth many generations ahead, that perhaps might understand what love is all about and what poetry is for
This is a brilliant fantasy film that blurs the lines of reality and fantasy and once again Cocteau challenges the language of cinema and makes it his own. This is a fitting final film for Cocteau, who spent his entire career bringing magic to the screen and this film is no exception, with a lot to say about mortality and the artist's struggle to seek the truth and reveal it.
The problem with Cocteau is that he always seems to give you an impression of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious child: 'Look at me, say cheese, I'm doing a surreal and poetic and philosophical film. Got me?' It's not bad, but I remember Miss Mary Poppins: Never Explain Anything. Or was it Mr. H.P. Lovecraft? Hm.