Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro) (1959) - Rotten Tomatoes

Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro) (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.

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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 love, Orpheus enters "Hell" (the Rio morgue) and uses supernatural methods to revive the dead girl. A multi-award winner on the international film scene, Black Orpheus features a samba musical score by Luiz Bonfa and Antonio Carlos Jobim.

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Marpessa Dawn
as Eurydice
Léa Garcia
as Serafina
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Critic Reviews for Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro)

All Critics (37) | 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.

November 15, 2013 | Full Review…

It is an amazing creation.

November 15, 2013 | Full Review…
Top 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…

[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…

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

July 22, 2008 | Full Review…

One of the great musicals.

August 3, 2006 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro)

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

Pierluigi Puccini
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
Jason Robinson

Super Reviewer

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