Saturday, December 04, 2004

A Fistfight at the Poets' Café

When I was about 15, I saw Jean Cocteau's Orfée, a film based on the Greek legend of Orpheus the poet, his wife, Eurydice, and their journeys into Hades.

Most of it went right by me. I was not prepared for its intensity nor its shamanic overtones. All I really remembered were Death's outriders on their motorcycles.

I watched it again last night and was amazed. Made in 1949, it is still a compelling film. This film has the imperious logic of a dream: you don't know exactly why things are happening as they do, but they are "right" all the same. Surrealist poetry coming from the radio of a Rolls-Royce? Of course.

All of this is done in black-and-white with a minimum of special effects.


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