Black Orpheus (1959)

Black Orpheus Review………………………………………………………..

Black Orpheus Movie Review

Black Orpheus is a 1959 Brazilian fantasy drama film directed by Marcel Camus and starring Marpessa Dawn and Breno Mello. It is quite a good film and a deserved Oscar winner.

………………………………………………………..

The happiness of the poor is the great illusion of carnival

………………………………………………………..

This is such an interesting experiment that is for the most part successful. The mix of modern and traditional is particularly strong as the story is basically Greek mythology, but the setting is modern Brazil. That was so authentic and intriguing. I like the inherent energy of the film as well as that classical, moving feel to it.

………………………………………………………..

Black Orpheus Review………………………………………………………..

The problem here is the music. It is great and I loved watching the dance sequences, but they were just overly abundant to the point of affecting the overall story by reducing some of its impact and seriously slowing the pacing. Again the energy is palpable, but I wanted to have much more emphasis on the plot itself.

The highlights for me are the ending which is breathtakingly beautiful and majestic as well as that entire third act that is poetic and so strong. I really enjoyed how the movie suddenly became a fantasy whereas it was realistic drama before that. The mix of realism and fantastical is so well incorporated here which is a huge accomplishment as those two are hard to pull off together.

But the biggest highlights in Black Orpheus are the small moments. The use of the kids is really well established, the looks and facial expressions, the infectious energy, the sexiness and exotic quality to it and that one moment where a woman stuffs a watermelon in a man’s face. Those moments were precious to me and they lifted the entire picture to greater heights.

………………………………………………………..

Black Orpheus Review………………………………………………………..

Orfeu is a bit too annoying at first, but he becomes much more likable later on. Mira is annoying, but she has to be for the story. And Eurydice is quite sympathetic. The two are great together and Marpessa Dawn and Breno Mello aren’t great, but they did a perfectly solid job having in mind that they aren’t actors.

Black Orpheus benefits from such a strong direction from Marcel Camus who really superbly crafted this movie. The pacing is problematic in the first half and the music is overwhelming, but the second half is mostly fantastic and so well crafted. The film has a voice which is evident from the start and it also has the originality factor to it as it really is a one of a kind experiment. And the fact that it is largely successful is all the more admirable.

………………………………………………………..

Black Orpheus Review………………………………………………………..

I really liked the color photography and the music, though overwhelming, is pretty good. I would have liked to have seen stronger character development and dialogue in particular, but those weren’t bad either, they were just disappointing. The movie is so well filmed and sometimes even breathtaking to witness. That grand quality to it is overwhelming and felt from the start, but fully came into its own during the third act. It is a technical marvel and even though it certainly has its problems, it is mostly such a good, memorable experience and a movie that rightfully won an Oscar. In fact, it is one of the best early winners in the foreign category.

Even though the characterization isn’t great and the music is overwhelming, Black Orpheus is still such a strong, really memorable experience and a film that benefits from some great technical aspects, superb direction, an infectious, palpable energy, some moving small moments and a breathtaking ending. But it is above all a unique, intriguing mix of modern Brazil and Greek mythology and it’s largely a successful, admirable experiment.

My Rating – 4

……………………………………………………………….

Share
Posted in 1950s, 1959, Brazilian, Drama, Fantasy, FILM DECADES, Foreign, MOVIE REVIEWS and tagged , , , , , , .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.