Through the story of a poet, Jean Cocteau’s ‘Orpheus’ transcends biological death to ponder on artistic death

Posted on May 9, 2020


Death takes many forms in Orpheus… A plagiarism charge is as good as death. It can kill a career… Another facet of Death is present in Orpheus’ marriage…

Death is still in the air, and in this column. Last time, I spoke about Hirokazu Kore-eda’s After Life, where the recently deceased are asked to choose one memory from their lifetime. This is the memory they will spend the rest of eternity with. Every other memory will be erased before they leave for the afterlife. This time, let’s look at Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus (1950), which is a reworking of the Greek myth about a musician who made such beautiful music with his golden lyre that the proverbial rock would melt into a puddle of tears.

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