Orfeu

It's impossible not to see Brazilian director Carlos Diegues's dazzlingly colorful film through Marcel Camus's 1959 BLACK ORPHEUS. In many ways, it's a remake: Both films are based on Vinicius de Moreas's play Orfeu da Conceicao, which recasts the legend of Orpheus and his wife Eurydice as a romantic tragedy set in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. Camus, who's...read more

Where to Watch

Available to Stream

  • Watch on
Reviewed by Ken Fox
Rating:

It's impossible not to see Brazilian director Carlos Diegues's dazzlingly colorful film through Marcel Camus's 1959 BLACK ORPHEUS. In many ways, it's a remake: Both films are based on Vinicius de Moreas's play Orfeu da Conceicao, which recasts the legend of

Orpheus and his wife Eurydice as a romantic tragedy set in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. Camus, who's French, painted the desperately poor Brazilians as happy fools who sing and dance and think of nothing but the approaching Carnaval. While BLACK ORPHEUS went on to become a huge international hit,

Brazil greeted it with the same kind of antipathy it holds for Carmen Miranda, and felt it exoticized a way of life that needed to be taken very seriously. From the impoverished setting and brutal violence, it's clear that Diegues has kept an eye toward righting a wrong. Here, Orfeu (Tony Garrido)

is no lowly streetcar conductor; he's a well-know samba composer and the leader of the crack Carioca Samba School that's set to compete in the upcoming Carnaval parade. For her part, Euridice (Patricia Franca) is a cynical beauty who's come to the slums of Carioca Hill to visit her aunt (Maria

Cieca). Orfeu and Euridice fall in love, but she's repelled by the street violence she sees committed by Luchino (Murilo Benicio), the local drug lord whose gang holds the shantytown in its thrall. So Orfeu issues an ultimatum: Either Luchino leave Carioca Hill by the end of Carnaval, or there'll

be trouble. Tragedy inevitably follows, leading to an interestingly imagined trip into the underworld, but in grounding the film in contemporary reality complete with guns, cell phones and rap "Brazilian style," the simple lyricism that made Camus's film such a powerful experience slips away. This

may be the more culturally responsible film, but, despite some gorgeous photography and the beguiling music of the great Caetano Veloso, it's also the lesser work of art.

Cast & Details See all »

  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: It's impossible not to see Brazilian director Carlos Diegues's dazzlingly colorful film through Marcel Camus's 1959 BLACK ORPHEUS. In many ways, it's a remake: Both films are based on Vinicius de Moreas's play Orfeu da Conceicao, which recasts the legend o… (more)

Show More »