James S. Williams
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Orphée refers back to Jean Cocteau's play of the same name, a play 'in one act and one interval', first staged at the Theatre des Arts in Paris in June 1926. The original play Orphée was a kind of tragi-farce that diverted myth towards boulevard comedy and yet also parodied the detective thriller genre. Orphée the film bears a directly personal stamp and may even be viewed as a self-portrait, that of the artist in crisis and harbouring deep resentment. Of all Cocteau's films Orphée offers the viewer the largest possible scope for interpretation, yet Cocteau also intervenes directly in the film at regular intervals with authorial voice-overs that arrive even in the middle of spoken dialogues. Orphée was awarded a special prize after a referendum of mass audiences and cinema managers, and the film went on to win the International Critics Award at the 1950 Venice Film Festival.

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