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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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.
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
The camerawork is wonderful (some of the shots are incredible), but it's mostly really high concept kitsch; an important reflection on Cocteau's life and work, but often, its inherent outré tests even the greatest patience.
With the same craft and intention as The Blood of a Poet, the film breaks the wall as the director speaks directly to the audience. Rather than having the same clear message of intent, the film is coy and cryptic. Leaving disparities in information. The film continues to become unhinged delving into absolute oddities. The film does not keep it together which hurts the craft. It does succeed in the atmosphere though.