Black Orpheus

Black Orpheus

4.3 17

Cast: Breno Mello, Marpessa Dawn, Lea Garcia

     
 

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Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro) is literally what its title suggests: a retelling of the "Orpheus and Eurydice" legend enacted by black performers. This time the setting is the annual Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Orpheus (Breno Mello) is a streetcar conductor; Eurydice (Marpessa Dawn) has just jilted her lover and is attempting to escape his wrath. Orpheus

Overview

Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro) is literally what its title suggests: a retelling of the "Orpheus and Eurydice" legend enacted by black performers. This time the setting is the annual Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Orpheus (Breno Mello) is a streetcar conductor; Eurydice (Marpessa Dawn) has just jilted her lover and is attempting to escape his wrath. Orpheus himself falls in love with Eurydice, whereupon her ex-lover, disguised as the Angel of Death shows up and kills Eurydice. To reclaim his lost love, Orpheus enters "Hell" (the Rio morgue) and uses supernatural methods to revive the dead girl. A multi-award winner on the international film scene, Black Orpheus features a samba musical score by Luiz Bonfa and Antonio Carlos Jobim.

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Black Orpheus was something of a phenomenon of its time, an international success with a best-selling soundtrack that was crucial to launching a bossa nova craze in the United States. It won the Palme d'Or at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival and the 1960 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Since then, the novelty of seeing Rio de Janeiro's Carnival played out backed by the strains of seductive Brazilian jazz has worn off, revealing a winningly energetic movie with some noticeable faults. Director Marcel Camus reworks the Orpheus myth for no discernible reason, and while the straightforward transliteration is agreeably unpretentious, he doesn't add much to the story. The Technicolor cinematography is notable for its vivacious use of saturated colors and real-life location shooting in Rio's favelas and mountainous countryside. The choreography of people and color in front of the camera is well executed, but not much is done with the camera itself. There is little movement and the action occasionally feels constrained by the frame. During moments of play, when the characters are flirting, dancing, or playing music, the filmmaking gels into a sensual reverie, but in moments of seriousness the movie feels rather pedestrian, and the actors in particular are drab and unconvincing. However, time has not effected Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luiz Bonfa's charming samba score and it's hard to be too disappointed in a movie that begins and ends with the upward lilt of "Samba de Orfeo."

Product Details

Release Date:
06/16/2000
UPC:
0037429060339
Original Release:
1959
Source:
Homevision

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Black Orpheus 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Late one evening(pass my bed time)in 1974 I saw this movie on a PBS station. Other than Africans and African Americans I had never seen (or knew of)other people who looked like myself and spoke a different language. this discovery furthered Black pride in myself and for my people. Through the years I have had several copies of this film, that I have shared with family, friends and co-workers, whom thought they would not enjoy a foreign film. Many tapes were unreturned to me, but that's a testement of how interesting a movie is. As you have read Black Orpheus has made a significant impression on me. I have searched many years for current info on the cast of this film. I have recently learned that Admere da Silva (death)died in 01. Mr.da Silva was an Olympic athelete of the 52-56 games,between both games he won 7 gold medals in the triple jump. He was also a lawyer. Why do we allow talented people to slip away before we celebrate them? I am interested in the children of this film and how did their lives turn out. They were not much older than I.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The first time I saw this movie I was five years old. I was moved by the music and intrigued by the struggle of the young Eurydice. I was too young to understand the love between Orpheo and Eurydice but I knew that their was something magical about her. She is still one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen in film. As a grown women I have come to love these characters. And even though I've seen it over a dozen times I always find something new to learn and I am always hopeful at the end that Orpheus will save Eurydice from Death.
David_from_STX More than 1 year ago
Rio Carnaval when it was still a festival in the streets for and by the neighborhoods. A Greek myth translated into love in the favela. Great music by Carlos Antonio Jobim. Colorful and kinetic and vibrant. The DVD does the film justice, crisp and clear. Rio 1959 frozen in time.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
For the movie to be a foregin flim it was great. It was a class assignment and I could not wait until the next class period to see the ending. This is one flim that I will be sure to purchase for my collection.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was 13or 14 years old when I saw this film Due to carnival and all settings of the film, but mainly due to the songs by Luis Bonfa - and I understand the music and lyrics together with Antonio Carlos Jobim - I became in love with Brasil, and with its music; later, I started to love bossa nova, and life drove me to love a brazilian wife and a 6 yrs old new son
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie is really scary. It's so good. The guy dressed up as death is the scariest character in film because of the total mystery.
AvidReaderJA More than 1 year ago
This film is wonderful for the soundtrack and depiction of music and dance in the less than successful barrios (maybe) of Rio during "Carnival". The plot is basically that of the Greek play/tragedy of Orpheus, but the Brazilian characters and the Bossa Nova music make this a captivating turning of the story. Watch for the small boys dancing and hitting on the beautiful women around the preparation for Carnival. A classic film from the early 60s, and not often found in stores.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The music was the most compelling part of the movie. In fact, this is how I was introduced to it, it was bonfa's touching music that really got me into buying the movie. Given my limited knowledge of south america in general, discovering the brazilian intracultures through the movie was more important to me than the retelling of the ancient greek myth. Though I like it in general, the acting, however, wasn't in the level I anticipated. The love story was happening very fast that I didn't get a chance to feel it. But I did like some characters like mira, she's a good dancer, and the cousin had a good sense of humor. I do believe that black orpheus was released in a time of many racial controversies, for this I exalt the movie for taking the risk to appreciate the black culture when it was uneasy to do so.