Tag Archives: Greek tragedy

Orpheus

Award winning French remake of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, “Orpheus” (1950) directed by Jean Cocteau and starring Jean Marais, Maria Casares, Maria Dea, Francois Perier among others.

Completely different take from the Black Orpheus which i saw recently about which i wrote here https://vramonline.in/2021/03/05/black-orpheus/ . Here Orpheus (Jean Marais) is an acclaimed poet and Princess Death (Maria Casares) loves him. She creates a diversion outside the Poets Cafe in Paris and carts a perplexed Orpheus to her castle. Here he witnesses how Cegeste whom Princess had got killed comes back to life in a zombie way, becoming a slave to Princess.

Hertebise (Francois Perier) is sent alongwith Orpheus back to his house. There he listens to some radio messages which make no sense. Hertebise is there to help Orpheus but he falls in love with Eurydice (Maria Dea) who is the wife of Orpheus and expecting a child soon. Then Eurydice is killed by Princess and Orpheus follows her to bring her back. She is sent back with a condition that Orpheus should never look at her face again. If he does, she will disappear.

Interesting theme and very good production values including some superb special effects which are way ahead of time for a 1950 movie. Jean Cocteau has done a good job with script and direction, music by Georges Auric is spectacular. Cinematography by Nicolas Hayer is brilliant to say the least, it captures the essence of the film beautifully. Of the cast all the four mentioned above has done good roles to supplement the script. This film got a Fipresci in 1950.

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Black Orpheus

A Brazilian Portugese movie “Black Orpheus” (1959) based on the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, which won the 1959 Cannes, 1960 Oscars for best foreign language film and 1960 Golden Globe for best foreign film.

The movie is set in the context of the Brazilian carnival at Rio de Janeiro. Eurydice (Marpessa Dawn) comes to Rio de Janeiro from somewhere and takes the tram driven by Orpheus (Breno Mello). Eurydice goes to her cousin Serafina’s house while preparations are on going for the carnival. Orpheus is already engaged to Mira (Lourdes de Oliveira) but he is not very happy with that engagement. Orpheus and Eurydice touch off great and slowly fall into love.

But Eurydice has a past, she is chased by a man dressed in skeleton and is fearing for her life. Things come to a climax at the festival which has thousands thronging the streets of Rio. Mira meanwhile has discovered that Orpheus is not loving her anymore. There are a couple of kids in the movie who are like lookouts for Orpheus and they have done a good role.

As a greek romantic tragedy, the movie has delved into the depths of human emotions of love, grief, longing, separation, despair and anguish.

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