JEAN COCTEAU's (left) last film, Le testament d'Orphée, receives a rare showing at the French Cultural Centre in Mounira on Sunday. Cocteau more or less plays himself in the film, which acts as a visual summation of the poet's life, gazing endlessly into refracted mirrors that represent both his works and his varied loves.
He described the film as "an active poem", and it serves as an astute recreation of the personal myths Cocteau propagated throughout his life. Shot in September and October 1959 in the dramatic limestone landscapes of Les Baux, in the south of France, the film is choc-a-bloc with the symbols of which Cocteau made repeated use -- horses, flowers, tapestries, mirrors. On its premiere in Paris it was scorned by the critics: Cocteau, they insisted, was a dinosaur. It did, however, consolidate Cocteau's reputation among the New Wave of French directors: indeed, Le testament d'Orphée was only made possible when Truffaut gave Cocteau the prize money he had won for Les Quatre Cents Coup in order that the film be completed.
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