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January 24, 2016

Testament of Orpheus
(Le testament d'Orphée, ou ne me demandez pas pourquoi!)

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Film still: Testament of Orpheus


"A wry, self-conscious re-examination of a lifetime's obsessions, with Cocteau playing himself at the centre of the mythology that he created in countless books, plays, films and paintings"
  —TimeOut London

Presented in partnership with Chicago Opera Theater, we are very proud to present an exclusive screening of the final film by the legendary writer/artist/filmmaker Jean Cocteau (Blood of a Poet, Orpheus) as he looks back over his life and work, recalling his inspirations and obsessions. Jean Cocteau portrays an 18th-century poet who travels through time and space on a quest for divine wisdom. In a mysterious wasteland, he meets several symbolic phantoms that bring about his death and resurrection.

These enigmatic and surreal encounters are represented by an eclectic cast which includes Pablo Picasso, Jean-Pierre Leáud, Brigitte Bardot, Jean Marais and Yul Brynner as Testament of Orpheus brings full circle the journey Cocteau began in The Blood of a Poet, an exploration of the torturous relationship between the artist and his creations. It is a visual summing up of the poet's own life and as Cocteau gazes, one after the other, into the multiple mirrors of his loves and his works, he re-creates his personal myth, calling it "an active poem, striving to achieve his own rebirth as an immortal celestial being.

Directed by Jean Cocteau, France, 1959, 80 mins. In French with English subtitles

Chicago Opera Theater is presenting La Voix Humaine as part of their double bill performance on February 6 and 14. La Voix Humaine is based on Cocteau's play of the same name. He was an instrumental piece to the original production of the opera including designing the scenery, costumes, and directing the production.


  • Sunday, Jan. 24 at 12:00 pm
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$10 for General Public, $5 for COT Subscribers and Facets Members

The Facets Cinémathèque is located at 1517 W. Fullerton Ave. in Chicago. Call the Cinémathèque Hotline at 773.281.4114 for the latest schedule, showtimes and updates.

For all Cinémathèque inquiries, contact Charles Coleman at 773.281.9075 or

  • John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Artworks: National Endowment for the Arts
  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
  • Comer Family Foundation
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • Alphawood Foundation
  • Polk Bros. Foundation