Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Black Orpheus

(Orfeu Negro, Brazil, France,, Italy, 1959)

I don’t know what Italy had to do with this Brazilian film, but that’s what it says at Wiki, and they usually know what they’re talking about when it comes to movies. It was done on a shoestring budget, and the director, a Frenchman named Marcel Camus, actually slept in the park some nights, he was that broke.

I’m afraid this just isn’t my kind of film. It is a retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, which doesn’t interest me very much. It takes place during Carnival in Rio, a time when the whole city apparently goes mad. It seems a bit heavy-handed. Some people have criticized it for portraying the citizens of Rio (known as cariocas) as child-like. There’s some validity to that, but who doesn’t get a little child-like when it’s party time? And I’ll hand it to them, those cariocas sure can dance. But the music … if there was a moment when we didn’t hear a hundred drums, close by or in the distance, I can’t remember it. I’m not a fan of massed drums. Those groups who gather in parks and thump away … I can enjoy it for about the length of time it takes me to walk by them. Okay, maybe ten minutes beyond that. But 107 minutes of it is way too much. It never seems to change, it’s the same riff over and over and over, and it became really annoying. It finally overwhelmed the colorful photography, which was the most enjoyable element. The only reason I pressed on was because we are working our way through all the films that won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language. So far, this one is the one I’ve liked the least. It’s not a bad film, it’s just not up my alley.