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Jean Cocteau - 1950

This is an interpretation of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, where if Orpheus looks back at Eurydice when leaving the Underworld, she shall stay dead.


"Orpheus" shows Cocteau's taste for magic and enchantment; he uses trick shots to show his characters passing into the world of death by stepping through mirrors, and when he wants a character to spring back to life, he runs the film backward. He weaves his effects so well that after a time they aren't tricks at all, but simply the part of the mythical world.


What intrigued me in this film was the use of the mirror as a portal into another world, that and the weird fact that you must put on a pair of rubber gloves to use the mirror. But fact that he uses a mirror as a portal is different because it is not used for beauty/life, it is used or death and not as a viewing platform. Cocteau uses the line, "Mirrors are the doors through which death comes and goes. Look at yourself in a mirror all your life and you'll see death do its work." Much like the use of a mirror in Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There, although not a portal to the Underworld, the mirror is a portal to another world [in this case the Looking Glass world, which is a mirror world].


The use of the rubber gloves still is a main part of the film although maybe not as much as Cocteau would have wanted. He made a point in the film of Death taking off the gloves and then leaving them for Orpheus to use later. These surgical gloves use could signify the action of death and instead of giving birth, as you go through the mirror, you are giving death.

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