Orfeu Negro (1959)


The Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film‘s submissons for the 85th Academy Awards ceremony are about to start soon, so here’s a movie that won the award back in 1960 for movies made in 1959: the famed adaptation of the musical play, “Orfeu da Conceição” (the play itself was based on the greek tragedy myth of Orpheus and Eurydice), titled “Orfeu Negro”, directed by french film director Marcel Camus

General plot: we’re in Rio de Janeiro, where samba and favela (little village) are a constant throughout the movie. And the lives of the two main characters: Orfeu (Breno Mello, in his first acting role. He was previously a football (soccer, in USA and Japan) player), a playboy trolley conductor who’s engaged to cynical and vivacious (and at times, jealous) Mira (Lourdes de Oliveira) and Eurydice (Mapressa Dawn, an american actress who had previous acting jobs in United Kingdom for minor TV-series’ roles), a pure and gentle girl who left her village to run away from a stalker that happens to be the Death (Adhemar da Silva, two times Olympic gold medallist in 1952 and 1956 on the triple jump (athletics) program) until getting to a place she’d think she’d be saved: to her cousin (Serafina (Léa Garcia)’s house

From then on, there’s an intense loving relationship between Orfeu and Eurydice, surrounded by the problems they have to face at the same time. More about the movie in here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Orpheus

Going now to my opinion about the movie, it’s understandable why it won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (altough filmed in Brazil, it was actually submitted by France): there’s an ethereal feeling in this daring adaptation of the greek myth concering Orpheus and Eurydice, one that makes the movie a whole deal

It’s enchanting visually, so full of colour and vivacity, even in the more somber scenes. Performance wise, the actors blend well their characters, given their nicely stated performances. Musically wise, it gives us the “world music” feeling, well engaged and movimentated throughout the story (by the way, the score was made by the singer-songwriting duo Antônio Carlos (Tom) Jobim and Vínicius de Moraes with collaboration of Luiz Bonfá in “Manhã de Carnaval”). Story wise, it gives me a surrealistic feeling: the first half is quite sunny and cheerful, but the next thing you know, the second half suddenly becomes awkward and sorrowfull (some of the unforgettable scenes, though, are, between others: the vivacious opening, the first appearance of Death chasing Eurydice, Eurydice‘s death (accidentally caused by Orpheus‘ switching on the electricity power. Eurydice was holding onto the electricity cables) and the “double-entendre” ending)

All in all, an original adaptation of a known greek mythology (the story of Orpheus and Eurydice) that had quite a handful of adaptations before in the media world and that would have after this movie

TRIVIA: Current president of the U.S.A., Barack Obama, stated on his autobiographical memoir book “Dreams from my father” (written in 1995) that “Orfeu Negro” was his mother (Stanley Ann Dunham)’s favourite movie

One more thing  the vivacious opening of the movie:

Thank you,

LAboy 456
(Rui Craveiro)


Posted on 25 de July de 2012, in Cinema. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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