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Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus) (1959)



Average Rating: 7.7/10
Reviews Counted: 33
Fresh: 30 | Rotten: 3

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


Average Rating: 7.4/10
Critic Reviews: 10
Fresh: 9 | Rotten: 1

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



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Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 6,057

My Rating

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

Jun 8, 1999

GAGA Communications

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All Critics (33) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (30) | Rotten (3) | DVD (8)

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.

November 15, 2013 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It is an amazing creation.

November 15, 2013 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

November 15, 2013 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop 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.

October 23, 2010 Full Review Source: Wall Street Journal
Wall Street Journal
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

July 22, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

One of the great musicals.

August 3, 2006 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An inspired reinvention of the underworld.

November 15, 2013 Full Review Source: Guardian

It's the music, ecstatic, delirious, overwhelming, that is the star of the show: the bossa nova has never had a setting like this.

November 15, 2013 Full Review Source: Independent

There's no question that the tale is timeless no matter where or when the story is set, and you cannot deny that the spectacular cinematography makes Black Orpheus a thrill to see, but it's the score that really makes the movie resonate.

November 15, 2013 Full Review Source: PopMatters

From the opening shot, in which two Brazilian musicians literally burst through the frame, one can sense the explosiveness of Black Orpheus.

November 15, 2013 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

For a film haunted by death, this 1959 reissue is a joyful and exuberant affair which unfolds in a swirl of colour and movement.

November 15, 2013 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

The samba and bossa nova beats arent just score; they comprise the very environment of the film, as fundamental a force as the wind or the sun

August 27, 2010 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

its romanticized perspective makes it all seem in hindsight a bit shallow and facile

August 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

The vibrant color of the costumes and settings and the energetic beat of the music and dance creates an intoxicating atmosphere...

August 17, 2010 Full Review Source: Parallax View
Parallax View

Seductive blend of mythology and travelogue...there's still sensual pleasure in the urban scenery, colorful visions, and music and dance, most of it defined by joyful abandon. [Blu-ray]

July 31, 2010 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

O belo conceito de Vinícius e a magnífica música de Tom Jobim não conseguem salvar este filme que, apesar de esteticamente impecável (ou talvez por isso), confunde alegoria e caricatura.

April 27, 2009
Cinema em Cena

Infectious Samba and Bossa Nova rhythms permeate the beautifully filmed earthy Brazilian atmosphere of Carnival. "Black Orpheus" is an unforgettable classic of cinematic poetry, music, and myth.

April 12, 2009 Full Review Source:

Despite that, Black Orpheus, while not being a cinematic full meal nevertheless is a sweet piece of candy, and thus has to be judged more on its entertainment value than its artistic value; mindful that, unlike the Orphic films of Cocteau, it, at least su

March 12, 2007 Full Review Source:

Dated, to put it mildly. But still colorful, with charming lead performances and that wonderful score.

July 12, 2006 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Dated in its sentimentality but timeless in splendor.

July 3, 2006 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

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.
November 28, 2011

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.
September 10, 2011
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!)
February 20, 2011

Super Reviewer

1959's "Black Orpheus" is like some long-forgotten children's book of what the rest of the world, with it's exotic people and colorful locations might look like. Along the beautiful coast of Rio de Janeiro, we wander up through villages stacked at impossible angles against gigantic hills and mountains, as the city below litters the shoreline and paper ships dot the glimmering ocean. The story follow Eurydice, a country girl who's ship arrives in the harbor just in time for the "carnival", a fantastical time of dancing and celebration for the people of Rio. For the first 20 minutes of so of the film, there is almost no dialogue exchanged as we follow Eurydice through the city and up the side of the mountain, just the almost nonstop pulse of the samba rhythm pounding away as literally every person she passes on her journey is either dancing or performing music. Director Marcel Camus doesn't attempt to disguise his love of this culture as he packs every scene with life and color. Orpheus of greek mythology serves as the inspiration for Orfeu, the streetcar conductor who plays guitar and sings, and also charms every woman in the village. The beautiful Mira has him cornered into a proposal, but Orfeu forsakes all others the day he meets Eurydice. Eurydice arrives in town to hide out with her cousin, Serafina, away from a man dressed as death who's bee chasing her. Orfeu and Eurydice's story is told through the eyes of two young boys who see Orfeu as some sort of god (they believe his singing causes the sun to rise). Of course the tragedy parallels the original story of Orpheus and Eurydice, but the genius of this film is in the way it weaves the story into each aspect of life in Rio, from carnival and samba, to voodoo and government ineffeciancy. And even when the story turns heavy, there's just so much fairytale up on the screen it's hard to take things cynically. This is like a beautiful, arthouse version of "Slumdog Millionaire". When I watch a movie like Black Orpheus, I'm swept up in the mythology the film creates. I can't imagine there's anywhere on earth better to live than the village of Orfeu and Serafina, where you can buy groceries with a kiss and dancing cable cars roam the streets picking up stray girls.
August 23, 2010
Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Orfeo Negro (DE)
  • Black Orpheus (UK)
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