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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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Cast

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

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

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


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

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Language:

Release Date:

21 December 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Black Orpheus  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

, ,  »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Shooting on location did not come without its share of challenges. Marcel Camus, already on a limited budget, quickly ran out of money. According to an interview he gave to Time Magazine, in order to cut corners, Camus took to pinching pennies on meals and sleeping on the beach rather than in hotels. When he was down to his last $17, Brazil's then president Juscelino Kubitschek helped Camus procure some filming equipment from the country's army in order to help the production out. "The poverty was not such a bad thing in the long run," said Camus. "I spent so much time trailing around on foot, just looking, that in the end I had a deep awareness of Brazil. With money, I would never have made the same film. Everything would have been done too quickly." See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Benedito: [to Serafina] Serafina, look how beautiful!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in A Country Practice: Sore Throat: Part 2 (1982) See more »

Soundtracks

A Felicidate
Written by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes
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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.


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