When a film is as contrived and surreal as this is, the film and craft must be absolutely perfect. In this way, the film is absolutely perfect. The touches and effects are brilliant and ahead of their time. The film also states plainly, though thoughtfully that it is using metaphor to speak to the artists condition. From this, the film shines its brightest. It shows the mind of the artist working in brutal detail.
With surrealist works like this, it's really all about what the viewer takes away from it. If this film works for you, that's fine. It did not work for me. For every clever or impressive image this film generates, there are many more where it feels flat. The performances are silly, the narration is ridiculous, and a lot of the scenes are just plain dull.
"“Poets . . . shed not only the red blood of their hearts but the white blood of their souls,” an exploration of the plight of the artist, the power of metaphor and the relationship between art & dreams. One of cinema’s great experiments, this first installment of the Orphic Trilogy stretches the medium to its limits in an effort to capture the poet’s obsession with the struggle between the forces of life and death."
As far as basic execution, there's not a whole lot to say about it since it's relatively absent of character (or conflict), even for a fairy tale. If there's anything especially positive to be said about it (aside from visual inventiveness), it's that the evocations are clear (from an artist marred by an expressive wound to a secretly devilish woman who can't touch pure emotion) and in line with Cocteau's work.
It's cinema as ART to be sure. Embodying emotions via the visual medium of cinema. Not that I enjoy this style as a movie in itself, but I certainly do respect the artist putting these ideas, images and special effect techniques on film. It's not a narrative so much as it as series of cinematic moments. So the EXPERIENCE of the movie is much greater than the actual end product. Definitely an artist at work here.
The dreamlike plot and the sometimes exceptional visuals make this film a remarkable example for Jean Cocteau's mixture of surrealistic ideas and poetical imagination. Thanks to Georges Auric's prolific score the film is also an acoustical benchmark in the histoy of experimental cinema.