The Orphic Trilogy

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The Orphic Trilogy is a series of three French films written and directed by Jean Cocteau:

The Criterion Collection has released the trilogy as a DVD boxed set (which has since gone out-of-print). [1]

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jean Cocteau</span> French writer and filmmaker

Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau was a French poet, playwright, novelist, designer, filmmaker, visual artist and critic. He was one of the foremost creatives of the surrealist, avant-garde, and Dadaist movements; and one of the most influential figures in early 20th-century art as a whole. The National Observer suggested that, “of the artistic generation whose daring gave birth to Twentieth Century Art, Cocteau came closest to being a Renaissance man.”

<i>Orpheus in the Underworld</i> Opéra bouffon by Jacques Offenbach

Orpheus in the Underworld and Orpheus in Hell are English names for Orphée aux enfers, a comic opera with music by Jacques Offenbach and words by Hector Crémieux and Ludovic Halévy. It was first performed as a two-act "opéra bouffon" at the Théâtre des Bouffes-Parisiens, Paris, on 21 October 1858, and was extensively revised and expanded in a four-act "opéra féerie" version, presented at the Théâtre de la Gaîté, Paris, on 7 February 1874.

<i>Orpheus</i> (film) 1950 French film

Orpheus is a 1950 French film directed by Jean Cocteau and starring Jean Marais. It is the central part of Cocteau's Orphic Trilogy, which consists of The Blood of a Poet (1930), Orpheus (1950), and Testament of Orpheus (1960).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Orphism (art)</span> Art movement

Orphism or Orphic Cubism, a term coined by the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire in 1912, was an offshoot of Cubism that focused on pure abstraction and bright colors, influenced by Fauvism, the theoretical writings of Paul Signac, Charles Henry and the dye chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul. This movement, perceived as key in the transition from Cubism to Abstract art, was pioneered by František Kupka, Robert Delaunay and Sonia Delaunay, who relaunched the use of color during the monochromatic phase of Cubism. The meaning of the term Orphism was elusive when it first appeared and remains to some extent vague.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Orphism (religion)</span> Set of ancient Greek and Hellenistic religious beliefs

Orphism is the name given to a set of religious beliefs and practices originating in the ancient Greek and Hellenistic world, associated with literature ascribed to the mythical poet Orpheus, who descended into the Greek underworld and returned. Orphics revered Dionysus and Persephone. Orphism has been described as a reform of the earlier Dionysian religion, involving a re-interpretation or re-reading of the myth of Dionysus and a re-ordering of Hesiod's Theogony, based in part on pre-Socratic philosophy.

<i>The Blood of a Poet</i> 1930 film

The Blood of a Poet (1930) is an avant-garde film directed by Jean Cocteau, financed by Charles de Noailles and starring Enrique Riveros, a Chilean actor who had a successful career in European films. Photographer Lee Miller made her only film appearance in this movie, which features an appearance by the famed aerialist Barbette. It is the first part of The Orphic Trilogy, which is continued in Orphée (1950) and concludes with Testament of Orpheus (1960).

<i>Testament of Orpheus</i> 1960 French film

Testament of Orpheus is a 1960 black-and-white film with a few seconds of color film spliced in. Directed by and starring Jean Cocteau, who plays himself as an 18th-century poet, the film includes cameo appearances by Pablo Picasso, Jean Marais, Charles Aznavour, Jean-Pierre Leaud, and Yul Brynner. It is considered the final part of The Orphic Trilogy, following The Blood of a Poet (1930) and Orphée (1950).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">María Casares</span> Spanish-French actress

María Casares was a Spanish-French actress and one of the most distinguished stars of the French stage and cinema. She was credited in France as Maria Casarès.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hector-Jonathan Crémieux</span> French librettist and playwright

Hector-Jonathan Crémieux was a French librettist and playwright. His best-known work is his collaboration with Ludovic Halévy for Jacques Offenbach's Orphée aux Enfers, known in English as Orpheus in the Underworld.

<i>La descente dOrphée aux enfers</i> Opera by Marc-Antoine Charpentier

La descente d'Orphée aux enfers H.488 is an incomplete chamber opera in two acts by the French composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier. It was probably composed in early 1686 and performed either in the apartments of the Dauphin that spring or at Fontainebleau in the autumn. Charpentier himself sang the title role, joined by musicians of Mademoiselle de Guise and members of the Dauphin’s little ensemble; it was Charpentier’s last appearance with this ensemble.

Orpheus is a thirty-minute neoclassical ballet in three tableaux composed by Igor Stravinsky in collaboration with choreographer George Balanchine in Hollywood, California in 1947. The work was commissioned by the Ballet Society, which Balanchine founded together with Lincoln Kirstein and of which he was Artistic Director. Sets and costumes were created by Isamu Noguchi.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Orpheus and Eurydice</span> Ancient Greek legend

The ancient legend of Orpheus and Eurydice concerns the fateful love of Orpheus of Thrace for the beautiful Eurydice. Orpheus was the son of Apollo and the muse Calliope. It may be a late addition to the Orpheus myths, as the latter cult-title suggests those attached to Persephone. It may have been derived from a legend in which Orpheus travels to Tartarus and charms the goddess Hecate. The subject is among the most frequently retold of all Greek myths, being featured in numerous works of literature, operas, ballets, paintings, plays and more recently, films and video games.

The Orphic Argonautica or Argonautica Orphica is a Greek epic poem dating from the 5th–6th centuries CE. It is narrated in the first person in the name of Orpheus and tells the story of Jason and the Argonauts. It is not known who the real author is. The poem is found in manuscripts either on its own or together with the Orphic Hymns and other hymns such as the Homeric Hymns and those of Proclus and Callimachus. The poem was lost, but in the fifteenth century it was found and copied in a manuscript by the Neoplatonic Greek scholar Constantine Lascaris, who considered a Pythagorean Orpheus. Another related work is the Lithica.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Orpheus</span> Legendary musician, poet, and prophet in Greek mythology

Orpheus is a Thracian bard, legendary musician and prophet in ancient Greek religion. He was also a renowned poet and, according to the legend, travelled with Jason and the Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece, and even descended into the Underworld of Hades to recover his lost wife Eurydice.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eurydice</span> Figure in Greek mythology

Eurydice was a character in Greek mythology and the Auloniad wife of Orpheus, who tried to bring her back from the dead with his enchanting music.

<i>Landscape with Orpheus and Eurydice</i> Painting by Nicolas Poussin

Landscape with Orpheus and Eurydice is a 200 × 124 cm oil-on-canvas by artist in the classical style Nicolas Poussin, painted between 1650 and 1653. It is currently held and exhibited at the Louvre in Paris

Le Bestiaire ou Cortège d'Orphée is a poetic album of 30 short poems by Guillaume Apollinaire with woodcuts by Raoul Dufy, published in 1911.

Orphée is the French for Orpheus, a legendary figure in Greek mythology, chief among poets and musicians.

<i>Orphée</i> (Glass) Opera by Philip Glass

Orphée is a chamber opera in two acts and 18 scenes, for ensemble and soloists, composed in 1991 by Philip Glass, to a libretto by the composer, based on the scenario of the eponymous film (1950) by Jean Cocteau. Commissioned by the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York, this is the first part of a trilogy in honour of the French poet. The world premiere of the work took place on 14 May 1993 under the direction of Martin Goldray and the European premiere in London on 27 May 2005 in the Royal Opera House's Linbury Studio Theatre.


  1. "The Orphic Trilogy". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 12 September 2018.