Saturday, December 4, 2010

While Watching "Black Orpheus"...

...I was stunned at how Marcel Camus managed to make such an outstanding film with such basic concepts. I also am thinking that Brazilian music might be the music that has inspired the best films ever made (Talk to Her anyone?).

I loved how Camus was able to work his way around the Greek myth of Orpheus and did it in a way that was not only ingenious but practically natural.
See how he gets the actors dressed up in Greek-like costumes and simply uses the excuse of carnival to make them fit in.
The rest of his allegories work perfectly because there's a strange balance between what we can think of as the real world and the mythological world. It's as if on carnival, a portal to another dimension had opened and made it logical for various symbolic creatures and human beings to walk the streets together.

The film has an ongoing theme of windows that's simply remarkable. It might have something to do with the various layers the film contains and how we're seeing it through cultural, musical, racial etc. windows.

The idea of death in this film is terrifying and mystifying. Camus taps on a very primal state and makes us fascinated by death in the way Bergman and Allen have.

If this isn't the most amazing metaphor for Orpheus' descent towards hell then I don't know what is.
If you haven't seen this film, wait until you see who Cerberus is. Truly brilliant.


Kelsy said...

I saw this one a couple years back. I wish I was more familiar with the myth of Orpheus, but even without a lot of background, the film was fascinating.

Robert said...

Oh thank you so much for this post! Black Orpheus is one of my all time favorites but I feel like nobody's seen it. I also love the music and even bought the soundtrack - the metaphors and colors and everything is just so beautiful and exciting.

Jose said...

Kelsy: you should give it another shot now that you're more familiar with it! This movie was simply astounding.

Robert: you are welcome sir.
I had always been familiar with the music because my dad taught me bossa nova since I was a child but it was amazing to listen to the music in the context of the film. So beautiful!
You should tell everyone to watch this movie!