Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro) Reviews

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July 23, 2016
This movie is beautiful. I love the music, rhythm and the cast of characters.
July 13, 2016
Even though the characterization isn't great and the music is overwhelming, Black Orpheus is still such a strong, really memorable experience and a film that benefits from some great technical aspects, superb direction, an infectious, palpable energy, some moving small moments and a breathtaking ending. But it is above all a unique, intriguing mix of modern Brazil and Greek mythology and it's largely a successful, admirable experiment.
November 17, 2015
Orfeu Negro portrays the essence of Brazilian cultures, especially that of Rio de Janeiro and the excitement that surrounds yearly Carnaval! The warmth and excitement of the Brazilian culture exudes throughout the movie (except the scary and sad parts). The people that live in the Favelas in the hills and mountains of Rio have life a lot harder financially and so Carnaval is a day to forget all of that and just live in joy, have the most fun ever - it's a beautiful thing. It's my very favorite movie ever! The original black and white one. (I do not like the newer one "Orfeu." Much too violent and the acting isn't so great and it just doesn't have the magic that the classic original does and will always have. HIGHLY RECOMMEND THE ORIGINAL B&W ORFEU NEGRO!! A+++++++++++++++++ DEMAIS!!!
November 6, 2015
Loved this movie, because it is everything an adaptation of any myth, novel, etc. should be.
October 31, 2015
Wonderful adaptation and retelling of the Orpheus / Eurydice myth, transposed during the Carnival of Rio Do Janeiro in the late 50's. The film is filled with an impressive musical soundtrack, raw energy and overall feverish vibe leading of the famous carnival. Definitely a great film of world cinema.
Robert B.
Super Reviewer
½ September 28, 2015
Black Orpheus has one of the best endings in film. Overall, it has the charm, spirit, and talent that one looks for in an indie film. While I am not quite as enamored with it as some other reviewers, nonetheless I believe Black Orpheus was quite good and give it a hearty recommendation.
June 17, 2015
An overly symbolic, superficial, drag of a film. It can be overwhelming and at times perhaps a little bit racist. It has too much filler for a movie you already know the plot of due to the Greek myth. The tone is just right for a movie from the 50s-60s so if that's you're thing, you'll probably enjoy it. It's full of fantastic imagery and music and is interesting for those studying Brazil.
June 2, 2015
Awesome soundtrack, tragic story, great characters.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ August 17, 2014
"Extra-Tan Orpheus"! I keep forgetting how many black people are in Brazil, although I might simply not be paying too much mind to Brazil, because I keep forgetting that this film is Brazilian. I suppose ever since they did the "Orphic Trilogy", France has to somehow be involved in anything involving the Orpheus, because this is a joint-French project, and on top of that, it's directed by a Frenchman. I'd say that it's not like they were going to get a white American do direct something called "[u]Black[/u] Orpheus", but that's just today's interpretation of race relations in liberal America, because when this film came out, the blacks were hoping that they would get something this respectful in the States. Amazing how these bossa nova tunes are older than "Bossa Nova Baby", and if you think that I sound like an ignorant American for only noticing a style of music once Elvis does it, at least I'm not racist, like a lot of Americans were at this time. ...Well, I don't know; I'm still not doing progressive Alabama a great favor by watching a film called "[u]Black[/u] Orpheus", so maybe I should refer to this as "African-Brazilian Orpheus", at least to show liberal America just how stupid that sounds. At the risk of offending yet more people, if this film taught me nothing else, it's that before hip-hop came in and messed it all up, black people were making good music all around the world, and the French whities were making entertaining movies about that topic along the way, although such entertainment goes limited, at least by questionable pacing.

The film can get rather draggy, with such filler as, of all things, dancing sequences being particularly monotonous, although even the material covered in the actual plotting meanders, making a somewhat thoughtful atmosphere a touch dull, while driving a certain unevenness into the focus of this story of limited layers, or at least what feels like limitations to layers. The film limps along its plot points to the extent of actually losing focus before too long, convoluting a path which is either overblown or, well, undercooked. A lot of the narrative focus is unclear because, for all the dragging, characterization is thin, in that development is not so much lacking, as much as it is questionable, never truly gracing its roles with nuance which might be worthy of investment, and seeming to use them as devices for the contrivances. The conflicts feel a bit manufactured, with trite dialogue and histrionics which are made all the more cheesy by fantastic aspects, because at its heart, this film seems to be aiming for some sort of thematic or artistic expression which is even more ambiguous than the focus of the narrative, due to all of the questionable structuring. With even the thematic value thin, this film cannot obscure its natural shortcomings, because even with all of the dragging and underdevelopment taken out of account, this story concept remains lighthearted and reliant on a color which is there, but diluted by an execution which is even more problematic than the ideas behind this film. This film ought to at least be driven by its color, and in an adequate amount of ways, it is, but in too many places, it's a little flat, with humor, focus and intrigue, until it falls deep into underwhelminginess, almost into mediocrity. The final product, however, manages to avoid descending to that point, narrowly saved by an entertainment value which is complimented by a solid aesthetic value.

Even Luiz Bonfá's and Antônio Carlos Jobim's widely recognized soundtrack is underexplored, and when it is used, it kind of wears you down when it falls upon, say, the aforementioned overdrawn dancing sequences, but that distinct bossa nova flavor does a lot to liven the film up, and help in selling the colorful culture of Brazil. Really, this film is a rich tribute to Brazil in a number of ways, not just with its musical style, but with a visual style that isn't too cinematography splendid, but with just enough color to bounce nifty Brazilian culture traits, as well as gorgeous Brazilian landscapes. There's an immersion value to this film's celebration of Brazil, in all of its aesthetic glory, thus, you can really feel the passion in Marcel Camus' direction, although that's not to say his sharp tastes end with the celebration of distinctly lovely music and visuals, as he actually utilizes these aesthetic touches to compliment the energy of the storytelling itself. The film is saved by its being more entertaining and not, and never being less than charming, both in its ambition and in its color, anchored by performances which are more endearing than the roles they portray. Characterization isn't much of a priority to the storytelling of this flamboyant film, so material is limited arguably a touch more than the usual '50s flick, and there are a few mediocre performances to further challenge your investment, but what performances there are which charm are very charismatic, particularly when accompanied by some solid chemistry that makes this melodramatic affair a little easier to buy into. This story is always challenging, as it's so thin and contrived, yet just overblown enough for its interpretation to be meandering, and yet, it's almost Shakespearean flavor and culturally celebratory scope makes for an interesting idea that can be made or broken by the strengths of Camus', Vinicius de Moraes' and Jacques Viot's messy script, whose humor is reliant on subtle satire and wit, if not simply dated, and is therefore flat more often than it should be, but is still sharp enough with its wit to mark heights in a color that rarely falls in the meandering, yet fluffily drawn structural writing. There's plenty to complain about here, and not a whole lot to praise, and never all that highly, but with patience, one ought to find plenty to enjoy in this film, which entertains enough to endear, even if it by only so much.

All in all, the film is draggy and even a little bland, and certainly rather unfocused, with thin characterization and contrivances behind a story too thin to handle all of the misguidance, which is challenged well enough by the colorful score work, visuals, direction, performances and writing which save Marcel Camus' "Black Orpheus" as an adequately entertaining, if challenging affair.

2.5/5 - Fair
July 18, 2014
La película tiene un ritmazo. La fotografía es fantástica así como el retrato de aquella fábula de Orfeo. Sin embargo la historia disminuye su fluidez mientras va avanzando.
July 10, 2014
I enjoyed watching this movie quite a bit. It has great spirit and brings the Greek myth it was based off alive in a new way. I was lucky enough to find the soundtrack and I find myself listening to it often.
June 20, 2014
set in Rio during carnivale this is a feast for the eyes
½ March 31, 2014
Orpheus, but black. In Rio. During Carnival. Absolute garbage.
½ March 20, 2014
This retelling of the classic myth is a surprisingly fun journey into Brazilian culture.
January 4, 2014
Perhaps more than any other motion picture I've yet encountered, Black Orpheus links the world of material phenomena to myth. What once was is again and again and again and again. And one of those constants is love. And another of those constants is death. This is one of those few films that operates like a great metaphysical text. Of course you know the story, but what else can one do but watch it play out? The ending reminds me of the ending to The Seventh Seal. I think the idea the filmmakers are attempting to communicate is essentially the same in each case. The music continues, the personal experience continues, and the sun continues to rise and fall regardless of who we identify as and who we may have identified as before. I really dug this one, IOW. Considered a classic with very good reason.
December 4, 2013
The strongest element here is the lighting. Orpheus looks fantastic despite it's broad performances.
September 30, 2013
I quite enjoyed the music and the dancing and the frantic air of Carnival.
½ July 16, 2013
The fact that this film's backdrop is arguably the most beautiful city on Earth, which also happens to be one of my favorite places, may boost the film a tad in my mind. But even apart from its gorgeous scenery and landscapes, Black Orpheus swells with delight when it wants to and seeps with tragedy when it prefers to. A beautiful film, from top to bottom.
½ July 6, 2013
Black Orpheus retells the old story of Orpheus and Eurydice. It's set in Rio during Carnaval, and reflects the working man's views toward this event through song and dance. It's actually quite a beautiful film, and despite being shot in 1959, it looks like it was made yesterday. All of the colors on the canvas are lush and beautiful. The story is on the tragic side, of course, but you never really feel like you're watching a tragedy. Everything is so lively and exciting that it's difficult to get caught up in the emotional impact... that is, until the final scene. I wouldn't call this one of my favorite films or anything like that. Far from it, but I do appreciate it for what a fine film it is and its lasting impact on audiences, even today. It may have introduced Bossa Nova to worldwide audiences in a big way, but I walked away from the film caring more about the story and its characters. And in a film that spends much of its time with the music, that's crucial.
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