Friday, October 25, 2013

Movie of the Week: Black Orpheus (Review)

This week (before the movie link was raided by Arcade Fire fans), I watched the 1959 film, Black Orpheus starring Breno Mello and Marpessa Dawn.

(From Wikipedia)

"In Rio, Orfeo (Breno Mello) is a trolley conductor and musician, engaged to Mira (played by Lourdes de Oliveira). During Carnival week, he sees Eurydice (Marpessa Dawn), who's fled her village in fear of a stalker ("Death" played by Ademar Da Salva); it's love at first sight. Her cousin Serafina (Léa Garcia), with whom she stays in Rio, is a friend of Orfeo and Mira, so the star-crossed lovers meet again. Later, during the revels, wearing Serafina's costume, Eurydice dances a provocative samba with Orfeo. Not only is Mira enraged when her rival is unmasked, but she is being stalked by Death: Eurydice is in danger, pursued through noisy crowds and a morgue. Can Orfeo conduct her to safety? Don't look back." [IMDb]

Black Orpheus (based on the play, Orfeu da Conceição) is the retelling of the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice--a fact that immediately made me wish that I were familiar with the legend before watching this film. Nonetheless, I enjoyed watching this Brazilian classic.

Eurydice (Marpessa Dawn) and Orfeo (Breno Mello) [Source]

The movie was beautiful to look at--the people were beautiful, the location was beautiful, everything. Everyone's performance was pretty seamless as well (Léa Garcia, Lourdes de Oliveira, and Jorge Dos Santos (as young Benedito) gave standout performances, in my opinion).

Léa Garcia (as Serafina) and Aurino Cassiano (as Zeca) [Source]

 Even though Black Orpheus was based off of a play and a Greek legend, I must get the feelings I have for two characters in particular off my chest--I'm sure my feelings aren't shared by the majority and probably aren't the feelings I was "supposed" to take away...



I tried to force myself to like this character, but I ended up being indifferent toward him. Why?

Breno Mello as 'Orfeo' [Source]

Early on, it is established that Orfeo is the most "sought-after" (I say this like his character is a movie star or something) man in the neighborhood. He's extremely handsome, plays the guitar, and sings like an angel. He's been with just about every girl in the neighborhood and they're constantly fighting over him. However, Orfeo becomes engaged to Mira--a seemingly possessive girl, who's easily enraged. I think that because Mira is so annoying, that we're supposed to give Orfeo a pass for infidelity. He doesn't get one from me.

Mira seemingly makes life difficult for Orfeo. She's the "mean girl" of the neighborhood and Orfeo really wants nothing to do with her--especially when he meets Eurydice--but, Orfeo never breaks things off with Mira. At one point, he tries, but it's too late--and his attempt fails. He ignores her; he pushes her away (sometimes physically), but never does he tell her "It's over." I have no sympathy for Orfeo and no respect for his love for Eurydice. Sorry, not sorry.


As mentioned above, Mira seems to be a bit possessive. She's a talker; she makes fun of other girls. Like I said before, she's "mean girl"--but whether Orfeo wants to be with her or not, she is still his fiancée. Everyone knows they're together. If they didn't they wouldn't have to warn Orfeo every time she was in or near his presence.

Should Mira have broken off the engagement with a man who ignores her and seems to want nothing to do with her? Yes. Could she have been less catty? Definitely. Should I dislike her for her temper? Maybe. Should I hate her for wanting her fiancée to be faithful to her--even in her extremities? I don't. 

Lourdes de Oliveira as 'Mira' [Source]

However, by the end of the film, I find Mira to be an unlikable character because of her attitude and her treatment of other women--but nonetheless: 

Mira >>> Orfeo.  


I didn't really take a "moral of the story" from this Black Orpheus, but I still enjoyed it. As stated before, I thought it was beautiful to look at; the people were beautiful, Rio de Janeiro was beautiful, and the acting was amazing. It's a really nice film and you definitely should check it out.


to watch Black Orpheus on Youtube.


The photos above are being used for informational purposes only. If the rightful owner(s) of any other these images wishes to have them removed, please contact me, and I will do so immediately. 


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