Dedicated to classics and hits.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Black Orpheus (1959) d. Marcel Camus

Marpressa Dawn plays Eurydice in Marcel Camus' 1959 film Black Orpheus

Movie Review
Black Orpheus (1959)
 d. Marcel Camus
Criterion Collection #48

  Black Orpheus is an outlier.  First, it's in Portuguese, but made by a French director.  Second, it's a filmic "one hit wonder" Marcel Camus never made another classic film.  Third, it won both the Palme D'Or at Cannes and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 1959 so it's not an lost masterpiece.

Breno Mello plays Orpheus in the 1959 film Black Orpheus directed by Marcel Camus
  Black Orpheus is the retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.  In the original, Orpheus is a talented musician and Eurydice is his beloved.  She attracts the attention of a malveolent shepard and she dies while in flight from him, bitten by a snake.  Orpheus tracks her to the underworld and frees her once, but  violates her condition of release by looking at her before they make it back to Earth, so he loses her in the end.

  Here the action is transposed to the favela's of Rio de Janiero during Carneval.  Eurydice is a country girl who has fled into the city- scared of the man in the death costume who is stalking her.  Orpheus is a talented guitar player and leader of a significant crew for the upcoming Carneval.  When set against other foreign films of the late 50s and early 60s, Black Orpheus is a pageant for the eyes and ears.

The Carneval footage and general scenery of Brazil makes Black Orpheus worth a watch even for people who aren't into the Greek myth
       The sound track, created by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luis Bonfra, is generally credited, by film scholars at least, with sparking the boom in Brazillian bossa nova that took place around the time the film was released.  I'm not sure if this is factually accurate or not, but I can certainly see why it would be true.  It's pretty incredible how a single film can start a larger cultural phenomenon, but the fact that this happens over and over again is a testament to the strength of movies as a medium

1 comment:

Perfik said...

love this movie and soundtrack.

Blog Archive