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Black Orpheus (1959)
"Orfeu Negro" (original title)

PG  |   |  Drama, Music, Romance  |  21 December 1959 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 6,743 users   Metascore: 81/100
Reviews: 63 user | 52 critic | 8 from

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 4 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Marcel Camus ...
Fausto Guerzoni ...
Lourdes de Oliveira ...
Ademar Da Silva ...
Alexandro Constantino ...
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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...


Drama | Music | Romance


PG | See all certifications »

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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?


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 »


[first lines]
Benedito: [to Serafina] Serafina, look how beautiful!
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Referenced in The Cosby Show: Bonjour, Sondra (1984) See more »


O Nosso Amor
Written by Antonio Carlos Jobim
Played frequently throughout the film
See more »

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User Reviews

One of the classics of world cinema
24 January 2003 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Do they clean the streets in Rio De Janeiro? Well, of course they do. When this carnival is over.

And if you watch this movie you will see that they do it very near the end of the last reel, as in the morning when the truck comes round spraying water, just one of a thousand little details that director Marcel Camus got right, and one of the most insignificant. But it is from a multiplicity of detail that an edifice of cinematic genius is constructed.

The true brilliance of Black Orpheus lies in the people who live on the side of the cliffs overlooking the harbor at Rio. It is their energy that prevails. Then there is the color, the costumes, the pounding rhythms, the spectacular vitality of life that is depicted as a carnival of dance and song in which we are driven along as on a wave. And yet there is the constant reality of death. And it strikes in way we cannot comprehend, fatalistically, and we are helpless to do anything about it. And then Orpheus sings, a new Orpheus perhaps, and the sun rises again, and a little girl in white, looking like Eurydice in miniature, begins to dance as the little boy Orpheus plays his guitar, telling us that time has come round again.

Well, that's the plot as adapted by screen writer Jacques Voit from the play by Vinicius d Moraes as divined from the Greek mythology. Supporting this arresting conception is the music by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luis Bonfa. I recall the former as the composer of bossanova who gave us "The Girl from Ipanema" and made the samba international. Starring in the title role as the streetcar conductor who is loved by all is Beno Melo, who might be seen as the natural man and native of paradise. The very pretty Marpessa Dawn plays Eurydice, an innocent from the country who falls in love with Orpheus and his song. Lourdes de Oliveira plays his intended, Mira who is hot blooded, vital and beautifully ordinary. But the actress I recall most vividly from the time I first saw this in the sixties was Léa Garcia who played Serafina. Her exuberance and comedic flair struck me as something completely different from anybody I had ever seen before. And then there are the boys who follow Orpheus around and emulate his every move. With their torn shirts and unflagging optimism, they represent the new day that will dawn.

If you haven't seen this classic of world cinema, you are in for a singular experience. There is nothing else like it that I know of. And it is as fresh today as when it was made almost half a century ago.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)

55 of 57 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Film Originally in Color?? yb2517
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This is the most beautiful movie I've ever seen!!! QandU
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