Breno Mello plays Orfeo, a good looking black man from Rio De Janeiro who works a job as a bus driver and is about to be married to a real hard-ass named Mira (Lourdes de Oliviera). His real love is music, and he is passionately practicing for a performance during Carnaval. The kids even think that he has the power to raise the sun every morning. Meanwhile, the beautiful young Eurydice arrives the day Carnaval starts, but not to celebrate, but to visit her cousin. You see, Eurydice is deadly afraid that a dark figure is out to kill her, but her fears are calmed when she meets Orfeo and both fall in love pretty quickly. But this is where the story takes the twist, as the prophecy is fulfilled and Eurydice is taken to the Underworld by a dark figure. Orfeo must now go to the underworld and try to rescue her beloved.
Yes, as you can see, the story is based on the famous Greek myth of Orpheus. It’s a great story that has been used again and again in different film mediums. This is probably one of the most famous ones, especially since Obama’s memoirs cited this film as his mother’s favorite. The performances are really good, particularly from Orfeo and Eurydice, although to be honest I felt their romance was a little too rushed, for movie standards. Even with this fault, the movie has two main things that are truly excellent. First, the story itself. You can’t go wrong when it comes to Greek mythology, since it can pretty much be updated to every modern archetype, if you use your imagination. The first part of the film is very bright and colorful, and the bossa nova music is so loud and in your face that it’s hard not to love it and find it catchy. Hell, there were scenes where I was paying more attention to the bossa nova music than to the story itself! A lot of it is very picture-esque and happy, almost like an ideal representation of Brazil, considering the place is almost like a crime-ridden hellhole. But then again, this is a fantasy.
Then again, the movie does take a darker turn once Death appears and takes away Eurydice and kills her (by electrocution). Death’s design is very interesting: part Capoeira dancer, part Venom from the Spider Man comics. He’s not really that scary but he blends in into the environment like a fly to jelly. Orfeo is forced to go to the Underworld in search for her, or in the case of the movie, a Brazilian jail, which could honestly be a much worse fate than any jail ever could be. The ending, which I won’t spoil, comes out of such a left field that I was literally dumbstruck. This movie was so damn good that it’s given me an interest to make my own version of the Orpheus story. In the meantime, watch this classic film, you won’t be disappointed.