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

Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro) Reviews

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½ October 24, 2011
Forever a favorite! The haunting melody of Manha de Carnival lingers...
September 29, 2011
This is a toughie. I liked Black Orpheus--in fact, I liked it quite a bit. At the same time I kind of got the feeling that it should have been much better than it ended up being. Can't quite put my finger on it, though. Still, at a solid 4 stars it's hard to complain too much.
Super Reviewer
September 10, 2011
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.
August 8, 2011
Brazil. Just does something to my spirit.
July 27, 2011
Color, costumes, 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. The intensity of carnival carries us along. The real star of the film is the music. A classic of world cinema.
½ July 18, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011

(1959) Black Orpheus
(In Brazilian with English subtitles)
DRAMA/ MYSTERY/ MUSICAL

The setting is Rio de Janeiro which serves only as a backdrop to the lady in question, an urban legend involving a desired woman and her interactions with other people. The highlight for me is the music and the gorgeous looking locales! Made almost on the same tradition as "Picnic At Hanging Rock" from Austrailia which involves missing students without a trace!

3 out of 4
May 31, 2011
Modern setting of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, transplanted to steamy and sultry Rio De Janeiro during the height of Carnaval. Shot on location in color, French director Marcel Camus uses the exotic locales to great effect - the samba and bossa nova beats are omnipresent while the colorful costumes and sinewy dances keep the eye enthralled. Lovely Marpessa Dawn, as the heroine, has recently arrived in Rio to visit her cousin Sarafina, while avoiding the grim spectre of death (or a jealous lover?) hot on her heels. By chance she meets and falls in love with a young trolley conductor (his occupation is a nice nod to the legend) played by a lithe and guitar-strumming Breno Mello. Believing Eurydice dead, Orpheus descends into the bleak underworld of the city's Missing Persons Bureau (I think I see perhaps where Terry Gilliam got the inspiration for the title of his film 'Brazil' now) - while being hounded by his jilted lover Mira, as terrifying a personification of the ancient Furies as one could wish. A dizzying pageant, this film deservedly won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film for 1959.
½ May 15, 2011
The myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is one of my favorites, and this retelling is wonderful. It was beautiful and heartbreaking. And you gotta love that bosa nova.
½ May 14, 2011
An interesting and colorful interpretation of the Orpheus myth. Instead of Greece, this is set in the wild and uninhibited atmosphere of Carnival in Rio. Most of the movie is dancing or singing (it's not a musical though), so if those things bother you, steer clear.

It relies almost entirely on atmosphere and setting, and in that regard it's extremely successful. I'm sure there are a lot of people who would find this movie obnoxious, but I enjoyed it.
April 16, 2011
Awfully Sudden for True Love

When I was a child, I was obsessed with Greek mythology. I even went around one summer giving nicknames to practically everyone I knew, selecting them out of my copy of Isaac Asimov's [i]Words From the Myths[/i]. (To this day, it's one of my favourite books.) I remember very little about the guy I dubbed Orpheus. He was a counselor at Arrowbear Music Camp. His name was Val. He was in a fraternity, and he had to be able to recite the Greek alphabet three times before a match went out in order to get into it. And that's it. I don't even remember what instrument he played. But it is interesting, in retrospect; I seem to recall that he was the most popular of the male counselors with the female campers of an age and inclination to have crushes. The Orpheus here, too, is a bit of a ladies' man, though if our Orpheus has been half so open about pursuing those who were attracted to him, he never would have been a counselor. He was, as I say, in college; I was in junior high.

This particular Orpheus (Breno Mello), or Orfeo in the Portuguese, is a trolley conductor. It is Carnival in Rio, and he's going to take his day off and marry Mira (Lourdes de Oliveira), who tells the girls that he finally talked her into it, but it's clearly the other way 'round. The clerk at the marriage license office makes a joke about how Orfeo should be marrying Eurydice instead, and they both look at him blankly. But just before Orfeo got off work, he helped Eurydice (Marpessa Dawn) off his trolley and directed her to the house of her cousin, Serafina (Léa Garcia). It turns out Serafina is in love with Orfeo, too; all the girls are. But Eurydice has not come to Rio in search of love. She is fleeing from her hometown, where a man (Ademar Da Silva) is pursuing her. Serafina says it is because Eurydice is beautiful, and why wouldn't a man be in love with her, but Eurydice says that the man is coming to kill her. She does not know why, but she is certain. And then, she meets Orfeo, who falls in love with her. Mira, of course, is not best pleased with this development.

Apparently, the people of Brazil have not traditionally been as fond of this movie as everyone else. They say, according to what I've read, that it makes it looks as though Rio is just one big party. But it is, after all, Carnival, and it's Carnival for an excellent reason. Costumes form a significant aspect of the plot. Eurydice must be disguised. Some guy must wander around dressed as, and credited as, Death. They must find their way through confusion. Honestly, while Carnival is shown as a party, it's not one I think most people would want to attend. At least not as a principal. Besides, Orfeo and Hermes (Alexandro Constantino) and the clerk at the license bureau still have to go to work. Serafina has spent the last of her money on her costume, and there is an enormous line at the pawn shop of people hocking things to have a little money to celebrate on. The movie makes it quite clear that this is not what these people do every day, I think. It is an extraordinary circumstance which is necessary for events to play out as they do.

We are never told why Eurydice is being followed by Death. Logically, it is because the Eurydice of the original myth died. However, even that stumbles a bit if you remember that there's actually a logical sequence of events which would cause every moment in the story without him. Eurydice is coming to Rio at Carnival; that doesn't need another reason. Mira is extremely jealous, because she is supposed to marry Orfeo, and he is running off with Eurydice instead. And so forth. However, the choice was made to create an otherworldly air. There is the old, blind peddlar at the beginning who gives Eurydice something he cannot even say for sure is pretty. Serafina, Orfeo, and the others live at the end of the line. There is, to symbolize the original Descent Into the Underworld of the original Orpheus, an empty government Missing Persons office. Orfeo takes part in a Macumba ritual where Eurydice inhabits an old woman's body to tell him that he can have her, but only if he never looks at her again. The movie uses these elements to make what would be a fairly prosaic story something, well, mythical.

There is also the matter of Benedito (Jorge Dos Santos) and Zeca (Aurino Cassiano), a pair of local children. Benedito gives Eurydice an amulet at the beginning of the story, and it is implied that its loss is what eventually gives her over into Death's hands. Without its protection, she is lost to her fate. It is also the case that the boys serve as, well, a Greek chorus. As is generally true, children know more than they are expected to by their elders, even when the elders themselves tell them things because, hey, kids. They believe in their hearts that Orfeo plays his guitar to bring the sunrise. Benedito seems almost to fill the place of one of those omnipresent servants of legend, the boys who bear shields for great men. I don't know what Zeca's name means, but "Benedito" can come from "benediction," or blessing. Hermes delivered the news of Eurydice's death, but it is Benedito who is willing to follow Orfeo into the darkness. Benedito blessed Eurydice at the beginning of the story, and the loss of his blessing to her signaled loss for all.
April 10, 2011
A beautiful love tragedy film.
April 5, 2011
Megamovie, ancient myth transposed to the opposite place on Earth, Brazil, against a backdrop of carnival frenzy results in a perfect concoction of artistic value, emotions, storytelling, fabrication and even comedy.
½ March 25, 2011
Catchy music and wonderful cinematography. It is also a decent story.
Super Reviewer
½ February 20, 2011
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 15, 2011
The scenery was as lush and breathtaking as the carnaval costumes were colorful. There are some moments where the incorporation of the legend felt a little forced and the acting wasn't exactly top-notch but the confident direction from Marcel Camus more than makes up for it.
February 15, 2011
Marcel Camus, 1959.
Play for us, and make the sun rise.
February 2, 2011
recommended by valforlani...............
February 2, 2011
Maravilhoso,é um dos meus filmes preferidos.
January 31, 2011
'59 Academy Award Best Foreign Language Film
½ January 30, 2011
Somewhat strange and disjointed film, yet magnificently told and full of vivid symbolism. I think that foreign films are sometimes given a bit more leeway because the acting here is a bit stiff at times and the editing clumsy, but the cinematography is marvellous, coupled with the music, captures the feel and essence of the film perfectly. Wonderful retelling of the Greek myth.
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