6 January 2017



Described as one of the most musically and visually dazzling films ever made (I couldn't agree more), this is a French film made in Brazil that reworks the beautiful old Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice and sets it in Rio de Janeiro during the noise, colour and general madness of Carnival.

Do we all know the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice? It's one of the most famous love stories of all time. I mean, it's right up there with Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara, Rose and Jack from TITANIC (there was room on that raft for the two of 'em!) and Kermit The Frog and Miss Piggy for sheer romance and high drama. It's also one of the saddest love stories you'll ever hear.

Basically, Orpheus was the son of Apollo, the Greek god of music, and such a whizz on the lyre that even his Pops marvelled at how good he was. Orpheus fell in love with the beautiful Eurydice. He loved her so much that when she died tragically, he followed her down to Hades, the shady Underworld, to bring her back, braving Cerberus the three-headed dog to do so.

He nearly made it out of Hades too, goddammit, with his lovely wife in tow, thanks to the good graces of Pluto, the King of the Underworld, and his lady wife Persephone. However, a regrettable lapse in judgement and faith on Orpheus's part caused poor Eurydice to be pulled back into the shadows of Hades forever, leaving Orpheus understandably distraught. He didn't come to too jolly an end himself either, if you believe the legend.

Anyway, Marcel Camus sets his wonderfully colourful film in Rio on the eve of Carnival and on the very day of Carnival, if you get me. Eurydice is a beautiful young woman who comes to the town the day before the festival to see if her cousin Serafina will put her up. Eurydice is- strangely enough- being stalked by a man dressed as Death and Serafina is more than happy to take her in.

Orpheus and Eurydice meet at the tram-station on Eurydice's arrival into town. Orpheus is a handsome, happy-go-lucky young bus conductor-cum-musician. There's an instant attraction between the pair, even though Orpheus is engaged to the gorgeous, hot-tempered exotic flower that is Mira. He's not the world's greatest fiancé, however. Mira even has to pay for her own ring because Orpheus needs his own dosh to get his precious guitar out of hock. What a great catch!

Mira, who has the most marvellous boobs that stand up on their own, would be perfect for some kind of modern reality TV show dealie. She's flamboyant and showy and loves to dress up and look ravishing, and she would have totally been a bitchy selfie-queen if only the smartphone had existed back then. I love Mira. She's a brilliant feisty character and I even prefer her to the lovers.

She's also so possessive and jealous a girlfriend that we know right from the start that she'll scratch Eurydice's eyes out and pull out every hair on her head if she catches her making goo-goo eyes at Orpheus. We fear for Eurydice, because her love affair with Orpheus is already full steam ahead. The genie's out of the bottle and there ain't no cramming that horny mutha back in...

And what about the sinister stranger dressed in the skeletonized costume of Death? When he turns up in the little mountainside community on the outskirts of the city of Rio where Eurydice is hiding out, a shadow is cast over the future happiness of the newly-loved-up couple. And there's still the music, magic and madness of the yearly Carnival to be gotten through...

The music, singing and dancing scenes seem to go on forever, but in a good way. The dancers look like fabulously coloured birds of paradise as they shimmy and sway and shake their booty to the marvellous samba and bossa nova tunes, which will surely get you toe-tapping with the best of 'em.

The rehearsal dance the night before Carnival went on for so long that I was actually left exhausted after it, haha. And that was only the rehearsal! Carnival itself is an even more impressive sight, with the dozens of samba schools in Rio parading and dancing their way through the city in full glorious costume and even the ecstatic spectators twisting and turning to beat the band themselves.

Orpheus's gold butt-length costume for Carnival shows a fine expanse of muscular thigh and calf. He's certainly a fine figure of a man. And everyone in the film in general is so uninhibited in a free-and-easy kind of sexual sense, as well. I've got a little theory about that, actually.

I just think that, in such a hot country where the sun seems to shine all the time and people have to wear the minimum of clothing for comfort, it's relatively easy for a horny young male to have congress with an eager young female. Everyone's all hot and sweaty and worked-up anyway and hardly any adjustment needs to be made to the clothing. I mean no disrespect by that, by the way!

Here in Ireland, it's kind of cold and it rains a lot and, especially in the wintertime, we tend to wear about a million layers of awkward heavy clothing. By the time we've gotten these off, we've had ample opportunity to go off the idea of having the sex we were so gung-ho about a couple of hours previously, haha. It's not so easy to be sexually free-and-easy when your brown woolly tights get caught in the arms of your massive Aran jumper (for which a million sheep lost their woolly coats) during the act of disrobing...!

Anyway, BLACK ORPHEUS, incidentally the favourite film of Barack Obama's mother, according to his memoir DREAMS FROM MY FATHER (1995), is out on January 9th, 2016 from THE CRITERION COLLECTION. It comes complete with a ton of great extra features and would be the perfect way to warm up these miserable grey January days. Carnival...! Or, as they say on STRICTLY, keeeeeeeeeeeeeep dancing...!


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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