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From the black-caped Princess of Death to a phalanx of leather-clad, motorcycle-riding S&M angels of mortality, Jean Cocteau's modern-day reimagining of the Orpheus myth features some of the most famous imagery in the history of cinema.
"Orphée is one of the French cinema's supreme masterpieces, magnificently acted and photographed, and expressing the very quintessence of Cocteau's vision and genius" (Tom Milne). Cocteau's modish reimagining of the Greek myth inspired Demy's rock-star remake, Parking (screening on July 16 ). The blonde, chiselled Jean Marais is the young poet Orphée; Maria Casarès, even more piercing than she was in Bresson's Les Dames du Bois de Boulogne, is the black-caped Princess of Death who cruises Paris boulevards in a Rolls Royce, escorted by a phalanx of leather-sheathed motorcyclists (S&M angels of mortality). When she seduces Orphée and has his pregnant wife Eurydice killed, the distraught poet must pass through the looking-glass to rescue his beloved from the Underworld. "Undoubtedly Cocteau's major achievement in the cinema" (Roy Armes).