Colonials I

film 6 of 6

Black Orpheus

Draft Review by Dean Duncan Jun 3, 2015

Wonderfully vibrant from the marvellous beginning with the briefly sedate acoustic guitars over the stone relief of some greek figures, which image explodes out and is replaced by those incessant jungle drums and those wildly gesticulating natives–is this completely cultural cliché, do Brazilians resent the representation? a European made it, yes, but the indigenos are the complete subject, and it is about adapting alien culture to indigenous circumstance and understanding; anyway, pretty irresistible from the get-go, through character intros (Orfeu and his amusing romantic entanglements–the horrible knock-out Mira [that dancing!], the cheerfully amoral Serafina, the serenely beautiful Eurydice, who’s tranquil surface is impressively off-set by more overpowering dance stuff), the sketching of the setting, which is simultaneously dirt-poor and spectacular, the preparations for the festival, the knockabout with Serafina and boyfriend (silly but fun), the partner switching, the quite scary stuff as death appears, the flight, the fight and the morning after with its sunrise; less effective from here, as the actual carnival gets a bit numbing, the chase leading to E.’s death is good, the Kafka bit with the old man in the registry is quite tender, and Hermes carries himself with moving gravity too, the actual descent and retrieval stuff is less interesting and more long; but the morgue is sad, the fire/death part is a good shock, and the new Orpheus ending is inevitable, but pleasing