Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Marcel Camus: Orfeu Negro / Black Orpheus, Take 2

Let's consider a few more aspects of Marcel Camus' Orfeu Negro / Black Orpheus (1959). Orefu's overbearing fiancée Mira (Lourdes de Oliveira) provides plenty of conflict and pursuit. Like one of the Banshees or Maneads (mainádes), Erinyes or Furies of mythology, Mira adds a lot of tension and pressure to the evolving situation, for "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned . . ."  (William Congreve, The Mourning Bride, 1697). To amp the story arc even more, Mira has another competitor -- Death.     
Keep an eye on Hermes. (Pictured above on left: Alexandro Constantino as Hermes.). Hermes, Orfeu's supervisor on the trolley line, has a hand in moving the main characters in fatefully freighted directions. What's he up to really?  He seems to be aiding people with directions and directives, but the way things turn out, one has to wonder. Note: the Roman version of the Greek god Hermes is Mercury.   

Other things to look for. What is the role of Zeca and Benedito (the two boys)?  They are both intrigued by Orfeu's movements and talents. At one point, Orfeu holds up his guitar, inscribed Orfeu. He quips that there have been Orfeuses before him and there will be Orfeuses after him. The boys begin to learn his ways, his music, his guitar playing. They say that his guitar will bring the Sun up every morning. Indeed, the Sun has its role, the Dark has its role. Music, light, electricity, movement -- it's all in there somewhere.

Finally, Orfeu follows the Myth of Orpheus by going down into Hades -- or in this case, a basement where a roomful of folks are mesmerized and speaking in tongues in a Voodoo or Voudon-like Umbanda ceremony. Orfeu is looking for Eurydice and soon hears her voice. Indeed as they say, the rest is mythology, if not history . . . 

I can see why mythology is a favorite topic of Surrealists: mythical stories and situations are like dream tales of the roaming unconscious; they're a little on the eerie side usually, but strangely compelling 

Today's Rune: Separation (Reversed).     


Charles Gramlich said...

Mythology is so often an expression of archetypes, I imagine.

jodi said...

Erik, in basements, drinking nasty homemade dandelion wine, using a Ouija board and talking in tongues. Sounds like 1972 to me!