Friday DVD Review: Jean Cocteau’s ORPHEUS (1950)


Judgement: Your name?

Orpheus: Orpheus.

Judgement:Your Profession?

Orpheus: Poet.

Judgement: It say’s here ‘writer’.

Orpheus: It’s almost the same thing.

Judgement:There is no ‘almost’ here. What do you mean by ‘poet’?

Orpheus: To write, without being a writer.


I love ambition and audacity.

Not alone. Alone they are bitter and brutal sins, but alloyed to art and humanity, ambition and audacity makes for cinema at its finest.

Cinema such as that of Jean Cocteau.

I’m watching his ORPHEUS, which is very stream of consciousness, an odd mating of deliberation and fancy. The film is not as good as his BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, is a bit plodding and unlikeable, mostly because the central character of Orpheus is plodding and unlikeable.

A few times I almost shift away from it. But I stick, and it’s largely because its story is secondary to its visual poetry; is secondary to the ambition of Cocteau’s imagination and the audacity of his storytelling and effects.

Costumes change colors in mid conversation, mirrors are walked through, death is made life. Just the sheer creativity of this film makes me smile. I couldn’t give it a buy, but it’s a recommended rental. Just be aware going into it, that you have to take the film at its pace rather than yours, and I think you’ll find ORPHEUS a dream…. worth dreaming.

Grade:B-.

Orpheus (Criterion Collection)

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PHOTO OF THE DAY: MY STAY AT A HAUNTED HOTEL


“After that, nothing was real. It was fantasy, ecstasy, dread and apprehension. It was glory. They went to live in her apartment, and did not need a thing. Neither people nor food nor sleep. Nor the world. Because there was too much of each other within the hours that they would never have.”
— SO SOFTLY SMILING by Chester Himes from
The Collected Stories of Chester Himes (Himes, Chester)

I see her often.

When I have given up seeing everything.

In the darkness and in the light, when it’s softly raining and when it’s hardly night… I see her often.

She’s in the places where corridors end, and doors that are shut… speak of being opened.

In the middle of the night I find myself in endless hallways, in strange cities, in tortured lands, waiting for the one corner that I will turn, the one door I will open, the one promise I will break…

And she will be there.

And hell will have no dominion.

It’s a dream… I have.

—NO DOMINION copyright 2012 HT

The Faith of Stars


Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration

I had a dream.

Which is odd for me, because I seldom dream.

The dream is a hard one to convey.

It’s a dream before language.

There are symbols and sensations, and a brutal wisdom.

And a bruising hope.

In the dream I’m pantheistic.

Meaning mine is the religion of the wolves and the Wind, and of long dead stars that yet do light our sky,

“Think of it”, the dream says, in a way that is beyond saying “in the night there are stars lighting up the heavens, that no longer are there. That died a million years before the birth of man, and yet we are just now seeing their light reach us. To look up into the night sky, on a brisk, clear night, is to time travel.

No HG Wells story, or abstract idea.

It is time travel, definitive.

Because you are seeing into the past.”

“My God,” The dream, which both is and is not some part of me uncoiled, continues “how any can remain unfaithful, amidst the faith of stars. Even dead and blown to cinders, they continue to shine, for those who have eyes to see.

Time and space and even humanity (and their petty squabbles of oil, or ethnicity, or religion. All pathetically meaningless, and limited and wrong, ants skittering over a dung heap and thinking that be the world) are illusions, and to consider the heavens… is to break an illusion’s heart.

There is so much more, beyond this navel gazing, and wretched cannibalism Humanity commits against itself while still in the womb. Because make no mistake humanity is in the womb of its existence, strapped to a single world yet pontificating on the heavens and god, which are as above our reckoning as stars from silt. And unless we’re careful, we are rabid embryos who will die in this womb, fighting amongst ourselves, and take mother earth with us.”

And with that… here endeth the dream that was filled with signs and portents, and reckonings most dire.

And upon waking I read passages from the Bible and the Koran, Vedas of Hinduism, Translations from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, and even the creation songs of the Aboriginals. I consume all our human knowledge of the dark, until my hands stop shaking, and for a time, I can dispel larger truths that I learned… in the light.

********************************************


Credit:
ESA/Hubble & NASA

“All the counsel you have received has only worn you out! Let your astrologers come forward, those stargazers who make predictions month by month, let them save you from what is coming upon you.” Isaiah 47:13 Bible New International Translation–

I love how with each translation, the Bible gets more dumbed down and simplified, but the risk in simplification is the message is changed sometimes subtly, sometimes drastically. Compare the above, incredibly enjoyable passage (just insanely over the top, I mean I put down Astrologers with the best of them but that quote’s a bit gangsta 🙂 ) with the King James Version which is already a highly altered version:

“Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.”

Those are two very different passages in terms of tone. Where the heck does the exclamation point come from?! Someone made the decision, “this passage is not hostile enough in our war against terror, let’s toughen it up!” It is just hilarious. I can only guess the original Aramaic version probably said something like, “You have an astrologer? Cool dude! Pass me the pipe!”

I’m being facetious, I know that, but you get my point. We codify these inaccuracies, and say “Well this is the Bible”.

Well actually it isn’t.

The Bible isn’t one book written by one person. It’s a collection of hundreds of disparate writings, by hundreds of people, nearly all of whom are lost to time. And you have the church saying “well this article here will go in the book of Matthew, and this treatise here by that cross-eyed hermit we burned perhaps too hastily, will go in Corinthians”. Etc, etc.

If we define a book as something written by one person at one time, the Bible is not that. The Bible is not a Novel, it is an anthology.

It’s this truth that I think escapes a lot of people. I am not killing for a book, or what resides in a book, especially when 9 out of 10 people really don’t agree on the book or what’s in it. Now being the learning oriented type, I’ll study with you on the bible, I’ll discuss with you on the bible, but I’m not going to kill for you on the bible. Now before we go that route I’m going to have to read the thing for myself in Aramaic, including the books like Enoch, that the church decided to leave out of the bible. See this is what bothers me, you call it the word of God but it’s edited, rearranged, and dumbed down by man.

No, I’m just not going there with you. You want to believe, I don’t have a problem with that, but make it informed belief. Anything else is just… control.


“We gave some of Our Messengers preference over others. To some of them God spoke and He raised the rank of some others. We gave authoritative proofs to Jesus, son of Mary, and supported him by the Holy Spirit. Had God wanted, the generations who lived after those Messengers would not have fought each other after the authority had come to them. But they differed among themselves, some of them believed in the authority and others denied it. They would not have fought each other had God wanted, but God does as He wills. (2:253)”
—The Qur’an translated by Sheikh Muhammad Sarwar

here a cool link, with texts from a variety of faiths

CLICK HERE to SeE the DEVIL Pt 1 of 2

Part 2 will be made available only to subscribers. So if you’re not a subscriber, it’s a decent incentive to become one.

Picture… Darkness.

True, true darkness.

You wake up.., no wake up, wrong word, it implies a noticeable transition, an easy, gradual awareness; this rather is the darkness of beginning and end, the first and only.

This is a Darkness that has always been here, but is ever new.

Has always been waiting for you, and has never left you.

In the beginning… Darkness, as it were.

And you are there.

Alone.

For a second or a century, both words have as much and as little meaning here.

But then

something

moves.

It is absolutely dark, and yet

You are clearly aware of something moving toward you

You are looking straight ahead

Standing

You know that much

You think

And are aware

of something

walking

slowly

toward you.

Something moving in the darkness

that is beyond darkness

It’s like if you close your

eyes

and put your palms over top of them

If you keep them there long enough

You may in that absolute darkness

begin to see a speck of light

Moving.

And that now was coming in this dark

with your eyes wide open

and seeing nothing

but something beyond Dark…

coming closer.

And was moving

With a primal grace

like worlds uncoiling at their dawn.

You saw it now

something luminous

in the dark

A face

on top a form

and eyes

that sidled madly back and forth

back and forth

but never losing track of you

And a tongue that rolled

And lips that grinned

unbidden and eternal

and behind it

there were the dream of wings

great

vast

and slow

And never losing track,

Never losing focus

Never losing you

those mad, mad eyes of its,

and that eternal grin

that was not a grin,

this thing that was so dark,

that it made darkness pale

that it was white

luminous, ghastly white in its black

it came on

skittered

walked

drifted

closer

to you.

And you

being only flesh

did what all flesh must do

when such a thing comes near

You froze

And prepared to endure.

Copyright 2011 –HT