Thursday, September 13, 2012

Orpheus Film Festival: Black Orpheus

Marcel Camus, a French cinemaste, created a remarkable film from Vinicius de Moraes's play Orfeu Negro 1959. It won the Cannes Gold Palm and the Oscar, as well as many other awards, and has been a staple of international cinema ever since.

International cinema begins for many here.
I disliked the film the first couple of times I watched it. This is no longer true.

One thing I failed to appreciate earlier was Camus' introduction of Bassa Nova music. That was revolutionary, a first for artistic expression outside Brazil.

Another thing I missed was the creativity of Camus' narrative. Because I used to consider the storyline of Black Orpheus to be a simplistic application of the Orpheus/Eurydice myth — a rehearsal of the myth without divergence, I thought —the frowned on the way mythological characters were pressed into real-life roles: Orpheus as tram-driver, Hades as coroner, Aristaeus as masked celebrant at Carnival in Rio, etc.

In case you care, I see these things differently now. The music is actually pretty amazing, and the inflection of the myth into the favellas above Rio has provoked me to reconsider. The clincher, I think, has been that moment very late in the film when a new Orpheus picks up a guitar and causes the sun to rise over a new day.

My dad used to tell us kids, when we were faced with some new gross-out food or other, that we didn't need to like it, but we did need to try it. You might feel the same when you find your way into Orfeu NegroOGCMA0795OrpheusEurydice_Camus

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