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

 -  Comedy | Drama | Music  -  21 December 1959 (USA)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 5,861 users   Metascore: 81/100
Reviews: 58 user | 50 critic | 8 from Metacritic.com

A retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, set during the time of the Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro.

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Title: Black Orpheus (1959)

Black Orpheus (1959) on IMDb 7.5/10

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

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Cast

Credited cast:
Breno Mello ...
Marpessa Dawn ...
Marcel Camus ...
Ernesto
Fausto Guerzoni ...
Fausto
Lourdes de Oliveira ...
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 Rio, Orfeo is a trolley conductor and musician, engaged to Mira. During Carnival week, he sees Eurydice, who's fled her village in fear of a stalker; it's love at first sight. Her cousin Sarafina, with whom she stays in Rio, is a friend of Orfeo and Mira, so the star-crossed lovers meet again. Later, during the revels, wearing Sarafina's costume, Eurydice dances a provocative samba with Orfeo. Not only is Mira enraged when her rival is unmasked, but she is being stalked by Death: Eurydice is in danger, pursued through noisy crowds and a morgue. Can Orfeo conduct her to safety? Don't look back. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

trolley | samba | dance | carnival | brazil | See more »

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Music | Romance

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

| |

Language:

Release Date:

21 December 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Black Orpheus  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

, ,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Clips from the film were used to create the music video for 'Afterlife' by Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire. See more »

Quotes

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

Connections

Featured in À la recherche d'Orfeu Negro (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Samba de Orfeo
Written by Luiz Bonfá and Antônio Maria
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!)


51 of 52 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Marpessa Dawn MaryCherry
what male singer was the actual singing voice for breno mello? bimbim14
I don't get it redcrow84
This is the most beautiful movie I've ever seen!!! QandU
Film Originally in Color?? yb2517
where are they now? babyphat200711
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