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Black Orpheus (1959)

Orfeu Negro (original title)
A retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, set during the time of the Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro.


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Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Marcel Camus ...
Fausto Guerzoni ...
Léa Garcia ...
Ademar Da Silva ...
Alexandro Constantino ...
Waldemar De Souza ...
Jorge Dos Santos ...
Aurino Cassiano ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Maria Alice
Ana Amélia
Elizeth Cardoso
Arlete Costa


In the heady atmosphere of Rio's carnival, two people meet and fall in love. Eurydice, a country girl, has run away from home to avoid a man who arrived at her her looking for her. She is convinced that he was going to kill her. She arrives in Rio to stay with her cousin Serafina. Orfeo works as a tram conductor and is engaged to Mira - as far as Mira is concerned anyways. As Eurydice and Orpheus get to know one another they fall deeply in love. Mira is mad with jealousy and when Eurydice disappears, Orfeo sets out to find her. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The film that introduced Bossa Nova to the world...


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




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Release Date:

21 December 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Black Orpheus  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

, ,  »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Ademar Da Silva, the actor who played Death, was a triple jumper who won two Olympic gold medals, in 1952 and 1956. See more »


[first lines]
Benedito: [to Serafina] Serafina, look how beautiful!
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Referenced in Cinemania (2002) See more »


Written by Antonio Carlos Jobim
Played by brass marching band
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User Reviews

Rio de Janeiro, where myths become real
30 May 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

If it does nothing else, seeing "Black Orpheus" will make you want to pack up immediately and go to Rio de Janeiro. The movie convinces you that the city's sparkling harbor and dramatic green hills must be one of the most beautiful landscapes on earth, especially when accompanied by a soundtrack of energetic samba and smooth bossa nova music. The cliffside shantytowns teem with vitality, and are never too poor to rig up an elaborately costumed samba show for Carnival. Even the fact that the movie retells a tragic Greek myth barely detracts from the overall effect. It makes Rio seem even more magical, a place where archetypal stories of love and death still hold their power.

In this version, Orfeu (Breno Mello) is a streetcar conductor who moonlights as a musician, and Eurydice (Marpessa Dawn) is an innocent country girl. The movie starts as a simple love triangle (Orfeu has an inconvenient fiancée) but becomes increasingly surreal as it progresses. Death, represented by a man in a skeleton suit, literally pursues Eurydice while going unnoticed by everyone else, who may assume he is just dressed up for Carnival. (His motivations are never explained, but perhaps he is jealous of Eurydice's youth and beauty.) The movie finds clever ways to depict the events of the original legend, and adds a wonderful sense of atmosphere, as Orfeu goes through the "underworld" in the middle of the night.

Lourdes de Oliveira and Léa Garcia give vivid supporting performances, as, respectively, Orfeu's jealous fiancée and Eurydice's exuberant cousin. I also liked the two scrappy, unsentimental street kids who idolize Orfeu.

Overall, "Black Orpheus" is a successful attempt to place a Greek myth in a modern context, retaining the story's original tragedy while adding new, contrasting flavors and rhythms. I would especially recommend it to fans of Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge," another color- and-music-saturated film with a love story inspired by the Orpheus legend.

24 of 24 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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