Master of Arts (MA)
Over the course of thirty years, the poet and filmmaker Jean Cocteau created a singular artistic project he called the Orphic trilogy: Le Sang d’un poète (1930), Orphée (1950), and Le Testament d’Orphée (1959). This trilogy is marked by an Orphic pattern of a poet’s journey into an underworld to confront death. I will show that Cocteau’s invention is to have Orpheus be in love with death, for death to be an attractive and irresistible force to the poet. Simultaneously, Cocteau avails himself of the Narcissus myth, the man in love with his own reflection. Orpheus and Narcissus converge in these films as a synthesis of Cocteau’s personal obsessions, which I will identify in his own life. I will reveal that Cocteau’s usage of Narcissus results in a queer aesthetic which courses through the trilogy. Through a close textual and visual analysis of these films, I hope to enrich the appreciation and criticism of this major artistic achievement.
Document Availability at the Time of Submission
Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.
Walker, Gordon Elliott, "Jean Cocteau: Orpheus Narcissus" (2015). LSU Master's Theses. 710.