Black Orpheus

A Greek tragedy set to the samba

Black Orpheus/Orfeu Negro combines Greek tragedy, bossa nova music and Brazilian Carnaval. The Oscar-winning 1959 film, considered a cult classic, is a retelling of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice set in modern-day Rio de Janeiro with a cast of black actors. For those rusty on their Greek mythology, Orpheus is the musician who travels to the underworld to bring the woman he loves back from the dead. The film’s protagonist, Orfeu, is a musician and trolley car driver in Rio’s slums, where he meets Eurydice and eventually wins her over with his guitar-playing skills. The ensuing modern tragedy plays out like the original, complete with an Underworld and a personified Death. This sad story’s funky samba- and bossa nova-filled sound track is credited with helping popularize Brazilian music in the States during the 1960s. Black Orpheus is in Portuguese with English subtitles.

 
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