Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus) (1959)



Critic Consensus: Colorful, atmospheric, and infections, Black Orpheus takes an ancient tale and makes it fresh anew, thanks in part to its bewitching bossa nova soundtrack.

Movie Info

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 … More

Rating: PG
Genre: Romance, Art House & International, Classics, Comedy, Drama, Musical & Performing Arts, Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By: Venitius De Moraes, Vinicius de Moraes, Marcel Camus, Jacques Viot
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 8, 1999
GAGA Communications


as Eurydice

as Serafina
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Critic Reviews for Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus)

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (10)

An almost irrationally infectious retelling of the Orpheus-Eurydice chestnut set during carnival and feverish with hip-swiveling hustle, exploding local color, and sleeve-worn heart.

Full Review… | November 15, 2013
Village Voice
Top Critic

It is an amazing creation.

Full Review… | November 15, 2013
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

This sort of thing was considered high art not so long ago; now it seems forced and ponderously symbolic.

Full Review… | November 15, 2013
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

[The film has] swirling color, the excitement of samba and the accessible joy of a fabled city, not to mention a charming Orpheus in the young Brazilian Breno Mello, and a dazzling Eurydice in the American-born dancer and actress Marpessa Dawn.

Full Review… | October 23, 2010
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic

Pic is somewhat cerebral, being mainly helped by the fresh playing of the cast.

Full Review… | July 22, 2008
Top Critic

One of the great musicals.

Full Review… | August 3, 2006
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus)

lyricism, magic, love, death, the real flavour of latin american joy for living. A tragedy in vivid colours and heavenly notes.

Pierluigi Puccini

Super Reviewer

Mythological love and chaos in the world's grandest carnival, Black Orpheus is a modern adaptation of the timeless tale of Orpheus and Eurydice that feasts on rhythm and visual splendor. Vibrant.

Jan Marc Macababayao
Jan Marc Macababayao

Super Reviewer


I was skeptical -- I don't watch old movies. There's usually some anachronistic reference or humor that I don't get and then feel bad that I don't get then hate the movie for making me feel bad. And it's not that I LOVED this movie. The beginning is a little slow, some of the Carnival dance scenes are a bit tedious (that's if you're not dancing along at home...which I was so no biggie) and Death is just a guy in a costume. But I was completely mesmerized by the second half of the movie. Without any cheap special effects tricks (they had movies in 1959?), this movie is, in a clichà (C)d word, beautiful. The iconic final scene might even bring a tear to your eye. (Thanks Rach!)

Jason Robinson

Super Reviewer

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