Thursday, March 09, 2006

Orpheus (1950)

If Death was this hot, there'd be a lot less guys on the planet, let me tell you.

Genre: Fantasy Drama Romance (France)

Starring: Jean Marais, María Casares

Directed By: Jean Cocteau (The Testament of Orpheus)

Overview: In this modern retelling of the Greek myth 'Orpheus', a French poet has a run-in with Death, only to find that he's the victim of her whims, as is Orpheus' poor wife.

Acting: From time to time I felt the light tug of "Eurotrash", but I got over it. I suppose the French directorial style is a bit foppish, especially when recreating a 'masterpiece of legend'. What salvaged it was the Hurtubise character, and those judges. Orpheus was decent but I just thought that it was a hint too melodramatically directed.
Rating: 7

Cinematography: First let me say that the quality of the film itself is excellent. I don't know if every scene was meticulously lit while being shot with slow expensive film, but it's crisp. Maybe Criterion remastered it, but either way, this is terrific technical work. As for the reverse special effects and the trip through the Underworld, those were nice touches too.
Rating: 8

Script: The translation was decent, the characters explained this properly enough, but that whole scene, where Orpheus is in the Underworld and is told "Yeah you can have your dead wife back, as long as you never look at her." I thought that that was very poorly done. He just kind of goes along with it. Little remarks could have been more poetic, and the poetry itself was really lame.
Rating: 7

Plot: The story, I must admit is better than I expected. Going through this Film Studies tome of mine, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, has begun to make me a little doubtful, as all the movies in there are more Repertoire than good, but this 43rd one, had an interesting enough premise.
Rating: 7

Mood: Overall, this film had nice element of fantasy and darkness about it, as well as maintaining a theme of mystery and confusion. Maybe the style just didn't appeal to me as much as more modern stuff would, but it's ok.
Rating: 7

You know what, pal? You're good looking, but not that good looking. Get over yourself.

Overall Rating: 72% (Orpheus Or Not, Either Way...)

Aftertaste: I had it pegged pretty good. French retelling of a Greek Myth and it's Criterion Collection. "Fine" and "Seen it" was my prediction. That's what I got. Maybe it was just directed by someone too serious, to culturally specific for me. Who knows. Once, I watched this documentary called Cinemania, and all of those film freaks preferred the Deep French Romantic Love genre, more than anything. I thought, hey, I guess I'm in for a treat, I love movies! Not really. I don't get those guys. They're insane. I guess I'm not enough like them. I'm ok with that.