Approx advert and trailer run time: 25 mins
Film run time: 1hr 35m
Restored from the original nitrate negative, this new print of Jean Cocteau’s haunting film promises to enchant.
Starring Jean Marais in the titular role, and set in 1950s Paris, the film retells the Greek myth of Orpheus, the poet who descends into hell to rescue his dead wife, Eurydice (Maria Déa), her recovery dependent on him not looking at her. In this modern retelling Death becomes a seductive femme fatale, played by Maria Casares, with the underworld represented as a decaying factory-like space ruled over by officious bureaucrats.
The film is justly renowned for its special effects, which produce a poetic, dreamlike experience for the viewer. While the film is concerned with weighty themes – love, death, loss and the immortality of art – it is also an important film in the history of queer cinema.
The lingering shots of the film’s male actors and the transgression inherent in the descent into the underworld, as well as the iconography of Death’s leather-clad biker-henchmen signal the film’s concerns.