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Jean Cocteau reinterpreted the ancient Orpheus saga and set it in the intellectual and artistic district of Saint-Germain-des-Prés in 1950s Paris.
At the Café des Poètes, a brawl breaks out between the poet Orpheus and a group of angry upstarts. A rival poet, Cègeste, is killed, and a mysterious princess insists on taking Orpheus and the corpse away in her Rolls-Royce.
Orpheus soon finds himself in the underworld, where the princess announces that she is in fact Death. Orpheus flees in the car back to the land of the living, but the experience seems to take possession of him.
The film forms the central part of Cocteau's Orpheus trilogy.