Director: Jean Cocteau
Year Released: 1949
Allow me to talk out of my ass for a moment: When you see a film by Cocteau, you have to be amazed at the way he pulls you along with the power of his imagery and imagination - his films are confusing, illogical dreams, his dialogue wordy, poetic and abstract. For people like me who enjoy solid meaning, he isn't exactly the man you want to emulate. But I'm bewildered at how his films get to me, with their own internal logic and their willingness to go anywhere and do anything; I uncharacteristically enjoy the interpretative freedom and the easy-going nature of his style (nothing is really forced him, the mood is genuinely "wistful"). Here he tinkers around with the myth of Orpheus and applies it in modern day (then, the late 40's, after World War II) France, stockpiles it with images of Death that you don't laugh at (but would, if not handled so expertly) and ends up creating a serious, meditative work. It's not completely successful - despite a gripping first and (especially) third act, the second lost me with its sags and drags. Altogether, it's less something you can actively "criticize" or rant about than it is to be experienced and felt, a quality you don't find in many movies (most being more interesting to muse upon than sit through). The first Cocteau film I saw, Beauty and the Beast, totally bored me - I certainly need to grab that one again.