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Black Orpheus (The Criterion Collection) (1959)

Breno Mello , Marpessa Dawn , Marcel Camus  |  PG |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (144 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Breno Mello, Marpessa Dawn, Marcel Camus, Fausto Guerzoni, Lourdes de Oliveira
  • Directors: Marcel Camus
  • Format: Color, Dolby, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: Portuguese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: June 8, 1999
  • Run Time: 100 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (144 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00000IOUX
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,366 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Black Orpheus (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Uncut version includes previously unseen footage

Editorial Reviews

1960 Academy Award Winner and winner of the Palme d'Or at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival, Marcel Camus' Black Orpheus retells the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice against the madness of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. With its magnificent color photography and lively soundtrack, this film brought the infectious bossa nova beat to the United States. Criterion is proud to present the extended international version of Black Orpheus in a gorgeous new transfer.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
158 of 161 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A strange and beautiful film January 24, 2003
Format:VHS Tape
Do they clean the streets in Rio De Janeiro? Well, of course they do. When this carnival is over.

And if you watch this movie you will see that they do it very near the end of the last reel, as in the morning when the truck comes round spraying water, just one of a thousand little details that director Marcel Camus got right, and one of the most insignificant. But it is from a multiplicity of detail that an edifice of cinematic genius is constructed.

The true brilliance of Black Orpheus lies in the people who live on the side of the cliffs overlooking the harbor at Rio. It is their energy that prevails. Then there is the color, the costumes, the pounding rhythms, the spectacular vitality of life that is depicted as a carnival of dance and song in which we are driven along as on a wave. And yet there is the constant reality of death. And it strikes in ways we cannot comprehend, fatalistically, and we are helpless to do anything about it. And then Orpheus sings, a new Orpheus perhaps, and the sun rises again, and a little girl in white, looking like Eurydice in miniature, begins to dance as the little boy Orpheus plays his guitar, telling us that time has come round again.

Well, that's the plot as adapted by screen writer Jacques Voit from the play by Vinicius d Moraes as divined from the Greek mythology. Supporting this arresting conception is the music by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luis Bonfa. I recall the former as the composer of bossanova who gave us "The Girl from Ipanema" and made the samba international. Starring in the title role as the streetcar conductor who is loved by all is Breno Melo, who might be seen as the natural man and native of paradise.
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102 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful interpretation of the classic October 5, 2002
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
A lot of people were surprised when this won for Best Foreign Language Film at the 1959 Academy Awards. It hadn't been widely seen, except for winning at Cannes, it was a French director with a Portuguese-language film, with a black cast. (I've been to Rio and there's no racism, though some class-ism and other political nonsense). I saw this film in the 60's and loved it for its sincerity and profound lesson. I was in high school, and didn't really know much about the Orpheus legend. I was taken in by the narrative presented by Marcel Camus, and never forgot it. I subsequently visited Rio, and watching this film is most interesting, because it's about real people (not what the tourists see), but the exquisite photography not only shows vast vistas of Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches, but vivid colors, as well as how seriously the Cariocas regard "Carnaval". Bruno Mello (Orpheus) was a handsome soccer star, and a fine actor. Marpessa Dawn, as Eurydice, is really excellent (according to liner notes, she was from Pittsburgh). A real natural. An interesting thing to notice is that, even when looking though an open door, there are great shots of the beaches, Rio's finest feature. I also attended a Macumba ceremony while there, and the one depicted in the film let me know that mine wasn't a fake. Then there's the brilliant score by Jobim and Bonfa, which, by now, has become standard/classic. The music truly carries the film, the acting is first-rate, and the use of color by cinematographers Louis Stein & Rene Persin is breath-taking. This is indeed a great film with humor, a few scares, great love story, and just about everything anyone would want. The music alone will entertain; everything else is like a fine sauce over an excellent entree.
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59 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Orpheus Oddessy December 20, 1999
Format:VHS Tape
A wonder-filled whirl of color and sound, this movie will provide a boost for the hopeless romantic. The never-ending love story of Orpheus and Eurydice is regenerated in "modern" Rio during Carnival. Beautifully photographed with an excellent sound track, this movie is a must-see for any serious film connoisseur.
Links to the original Greek tragedy will test your knowledge of mythology and the trip to "Hades" with its voodoo incantations will stick in your mind like a fever-induced dream. The beauty and rhythm of this film will make you think of your first true love, and, if you're one of the lucky ones out there, make you glad you never let that person go.
I first saw Black Orpheus in New Orleans. One of my life's fondest memories is viewing this film at a local repertory theater. Whenever there were carnival street scenes, balcony-bound moviegoers would let loose with Mardi Gras beads and doubloons, adding to the carnival atmosphere.
Also, although I have a copy of the subtitled Orpheu Negro, which I would never part with, I have seen a dubbed version, only once and then on television. I would very much like to acquire a dubbed copy. Can anyone out there help? I remember there being much more to the story line revealed with the dubbed version. (For example, when at the pawn shop, as patrons are passing the guitar down to Orpheus, they are saying, "This is for Orpheus. This is for Orpheus." This phrase is transposed from person to person into "This is Orpheus. Here's Orpheus.", giving the guitar mystical properties and seeming to make it the embodiment of the spirit of Orpheus. Inscribed on the guitar are the words "Orpheus is my master."
I would give this film my highest recommendation and would encourage anyone to view it at least one a year.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it! The students love it
Used this to teach Orpheus. Love it! The students love it.
Published 19 hours ago by Margaret Broersma
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent product and delivery
Published 24 days ago by leavemealone
4.0 out of 5 stars I like it
I will recommend this product to any one interested.
Published 1 month ago by Jean P Tiendrebeogo
4.0 out of 5 stars Love is the answer
This featured film adds not only color to an original black and white foreign film but a part that was kept out on television when Orpheus is seen in the hospital trying to find... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Dream 4 More Book Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm delighted that Amazon has changed the VHS to the DVD
I saw this movie when it first came out. I've seen it over 15 times and never tire of it. I'm delighted that Amazon has changed the VHS to the DVD, I still rate it at the full 5... Read more
Published 2 months ago by una
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good old version ; gives u a look at Rio in 1960
The actors did a really good job
Published 2 months ago by DOM VECCHIO
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical, supremely entertaining fantastical tragedy
Many arthouse films, particularly older, foreign ones, take a while to enjoy - extensive thinking, or are simply slow-cooking to develop greater understanding or appreciation for... Read more
Published 3 months ago by SJreviewsEverything
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I felt like I was there at Carnaval! Beautiful!!!!!!! Claudia
Published 3 months ago by Anon
5.0 out of 5 stars The DVD was in excellent condition. The film was wonderful!
The movie was wonderful. I'm always a sucker for romance. It was a lot more than I imagined. I would buy more foreign films.
Published 4 months ago by Jennifer Beckles
5.0 out of 5 stars The seminal bossa nova movie
This is the seminal bossa nova movie. It captures the magic of the music and gives us an artist's view of Brazilian culture.
Published 5 months ago by Robert Hume
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Topic From this Discussion
It's available from Amazon in a Criterion Collection dvd ($16.99)
Jun 23, 2009 by V. Orselli |  See all 2 posts
RIP, Breno and Marpessa Be the first to reply
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