Saturday, March 13, 2010

Orfeu: Competing Spheres of Moral Hierarchies

“It is the myth that best explains the destiny and frustrated vocation of the Brazilian nation.” That’s how Caetano Veloso describes the 1999 film Orfeu directed by Carlos Diegues. Orfeu which is a remake of the 1969 film Orfeu Negro and adapted from Vinicius de Moraes’ play Orfeu de Conceicao tells the story of a samba writer, Orfeu, and his unexpected love, Euridyce during the Rio de Janeiro Carnival. It’s actually based on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice where Orpheus actually followed Eurydice in the underworld and begged Hades and Persephone to allow him to bring back Eurydice to the real world. They were persuaded by his music and thus allowed him to get Eurydice back. In the end, he lost Eurydice and spent his lifetime playing his beautiful music. The mythological background doesn’t echo much in the film though there are hints here and there especially when one of the characters in the movie said “…play with snakes and you’re gonna get bit” which echoes how Eurydice died in the myth (she was bitten by snakes). Rather, the mythological background is seen being played out in a Brazilian favela(their slums)—adapted to the Brazilian culture and mores and here we understand what the Brazilian culture is all about.

All throughout the film, we see contrasts playing about—the grandeur of the Carnival compared to their normal life in the slums, the contrasting social mores that they follow in the favela (morality and drugs), love and violence among others—and these contrasts it seems try to bring the message of the film closer to the audience. But did it succeed?

The themes that we see in the film are part of the contrasts that play a major role in the film. One of these is the theme of morality. As has been discussed in class, society’s mores is developed through a process of compromise and consensus until we reach an understanding on what the mores of society really is. In the favela, there’s a different set of rules that is being followed that is distinctly different from what we are used to. Killing other people is forgivable, and to the point of being a normal occurrence in their lives, as long as this can be justified. One scene in the film that reminds us of these is when a guy was accused of raping a teen (or child) and was sentenced to death by Lucinho and his gang. Many people living in the favela showed up and it’s as if they are condoning what Lucinho and his gang are doing. When Eurydice suggested that they bring the guy to the police, the gang was mocking. After all, what could the police do? At the end, the guy was killed and the people left, as if what they watched was a show and not the killing of a man. Mrs. Conceicao even remarked to Eurydice after that episode that “You get used to it.” Meaning, they have already compromised and reached a consensus on what life in the favela is all about. In here, we get a sense that the end justifies the means. As long as justice is served, however skewed, it is alright, and even forgivable. We also hear the Voice of the Hill which is like their conscience or god, saying what could be done, what is happening.

Related to this is the prominence of violence and drug-related violence in the film. The violence we see in the film is not really comparable to the previous films watched, e.g. The Clockwork Orange or Poison but rather this is the commonplace violence we see anywhere in the world. The people in the favela get used to this sort of violence and would rather hide than change the status quo of the area. Even the police, we could see, condone this violence and is even the group that perpetuates this belief. They have no compunction on whatever they do, as long as they do what needs to be done regardless of who gets hurt or dies in the process. Even the chief of police who regularly raids the area has no regret using violence, even threatening Orfeu that “no one really knows where a stray bullet comes from” emphasizing the fact that violence is commonplace and is used to get what they want. It’s also sad to see that the institution of the police is even corrupted in the sense that their mandate is vastly different from what they are doing. The people laments that it is only the police they see, Orfeu going as far as saying that “the only thing the government sends up the hill is the police.” We see that the people have already lost faith with the institution that could have helped them and this makes matters worse.

We also see in the film the effect of drugs in a community. We see families breaking up, friendships breaking up (Mrs. Julie leaving the favelas due to the violence there) and the eruption of violence as a result of the drug trade in the area. We also see people condoning the drug cartel in the area as long as they get something from it. People are lining up to get money for food, medicines and even shoes from Lucinho and his gang. It is perfectly acceptable to them to use drug money as long as they get what they want.

Through all of this we see a glaring comparison to Philippine culture today. Given that both the Philippines and Brazil have almost the same history (Spanish and Portuguese occupation 300-500 years ago), this is not surprising. Their favelas are equivalent to our squatters area where violence and drugs are commonplace. We see that the glaring poverty in the Brazilian favelas rivals the poverty we see in the Philippines. One of the most surprising things in the movie is the grandeur of their Rio festival and the poverty of their favelas and these are parallel to the squatters in Manila and the grand way with which we celebrate our fiestas. Another parallelism is the fact that the culture of violence, drugs and fatalistic thinking about poverty is almost the same in the two countries. The favelas and the squatters area are full of drug dealers (rarely do we see a place that does not have drug dealers) and other nasty characters.

But in the end, we need to ask ourselves, what was Diegues’ goal in this film? For me, it was not really evident. It seems that Diegues was trying to use contrasts to show his message. The contrast of the grandeur of the Rio Carnival to the stark poverty of favelas as well as the love story of Orfeu and Euridice which was supposed have a light take contrasted to the culture of violence and drugs which could be considered a dark spin in the story. But in the end, it seems that Diegues message was lost in translation. Was he trying to show that a person can succeed like what happened to Orfeu? Or are you supposed to see this as a morality movie? In this, we can say that contrasts that Diegues used was not effective in bringing his message to the audience. Either Diegues used too much contrasts or too little contrast so that the end result was a movie with an undecipherable message. What I see in the end was that it was only a love story—and adaptation of a Greek myth and nothing more. In order to see more in the film, a deeper analysis is needed and that is what I think should be avoided. I believe that a direct message (or even a bit more direct message) is needed so that the audience could immediately understand what the movie was trying to say.



Rohter, Larry. “Orfeu (1999) Film: The Stuff of Legend in a Brazilian Sun.” NYTimes. 27 June 1999. 8 March 2010.

Orfeu is one of the most unforgettable products of the Cinema Novo in Brazil. Directed by the legendary icon of the Cinema Novo movement, Carlos Diegues, the film Orfeu had won a lot of awards and had gained recognition all over the globe. This 1999 film adapted from a play written by Vinicius de Moraes entitled Orfeu da Conceição is a depiction of the Greek mythological tragedy about Orpheus. Orfeu is already the second movie adapted to the play; the first one was entitled “Black Orpheus” made in 1959 by Marcel Camus.

The story circled around the life in the Carioca Hill of the greatest Samba writer in the whole of Brazil, Orfeu de Conceição. His talents and skills made way for his Samba school in the slums to win the best carnival participation twice in a row. This made him a legend not only in Carioca Hill but also in the whole Brazil. Several conflicts arise because of the nature of the area in which Orfeu lives in. His bestfriend, Lucinho, is the drug lord of the area and his rule made the Carioca hill into a labyrinth of dirty streets inhabited by drug addicts and drug dependent population. In addition to this, the police being deployed to the hill were all power abusive and biased in serving justice; especially for Lucinho who happened to be the godson of the police chief, Pacheco. Troubles also brew because of the rivalry between women of who will be Orfeu’s woman and be crowned the “queen” of the carnival. Orfeu was admired by each and every single woman in the hill and each lady has her story to tell. Nights before the carnival, Orfeu’s world turned upside down because of the arrival of the lady called Eurydice. She just moved from remote untamed land of Acre, located near the Amazon. Orfeu fell in love with Eurydice immediately after they met, but Eurydice’s indifference to the carnival and samba music made their love story a little more complicated; but eventually, because of Orfeu’s perseverance and charms, the two fell in love with each other passionately. Another conflict arises when Lucinho took a liking over Eurydice; this led to a tragic accident that burdened Orfeu and his love for the lady.

Black Orpheus versus Orfeu

Several critics always differentiate the two adaptations of the play by Moraes. The first adaptation was made by Camus in 1959 entitled “Black Orpheus” and the second was by Diegues in 1999 entitled “Orfeu.” Critics point out the difference in the portrayal of the slums where Orfeu live in. In “Black Orpheus,” it was said that the slums, referred to as the pavelas, were dark and a place of exuberant primitivism. It was also depicted as a realm of pure folklore. It is so different compared to the depiction of the Carioca Hills in the film “Orfeu.” In the 1999 movie, the hills have already modernized that even if it was considered a slum, it was filled with colors and decorations. Modern gadgets have already entered the community and art was also included. The cinematography was also compared due to the difference in how lighting was used to portray the different emotions felt by Orfeu. Critics say that a great improvement was done in the 1999 movie also because of the new technology in lightings readily available during this time in comparison to the technology available back in 1959.


The movie used extreme disparities to portray its messages. It can be clearly seen in the way people in the hill were living. They were poor and obviously needy but the preparations they do for the carnival was much more than what they can provide. It is like they are living every single day just so they can survive for the next carnival. The people’s lifestyle were problematic enough that the y would depend on the local drug lord Lucinho for their daily needs but the amount of money and effort they put in for their costumes and dances in the carnival were unthinkable. Extreme disparities in viewing life were also shown in the film. Lucinho, the cynic and pessimistic drug lord of the hills view life in the slums as the end of everything. He saw the illegal drug business as the only way for him to get out of the unending cycle of poverty occurring in his community. On the other hand, Orfeu is the hopeful and optimistic side of the hills. His belief that the whole community in the hill can actually break out from poverty by using their talents showcased during the carnival will lead everyone away from their current lifestyle.

Communal Hope

One of the issues tackled in the film was the concept of communal hope. Orfeu was the epitome of hope for everyone in the hills. It was almost considered that he was a property of everyone living in the slums, both literally and figuratively. This view on Orfeu made it troublesome for the people of the hills when Orfeu was planning on leaving with Eurydice to go away from the hills. Even his mother stated that he should not marry for he was not meant to be owned by anyone but the whole of the community. This setup made it a heavy blow on the community when Orfeu died in the last part of the movie. Everyone in Carioca Hill was devastated when their hope perished making them unable to foresee what future they will have given that the bringer of hope was gone. This leads to question of whether there is such thing as a communal hope; a hope for the whole community. An entity that will cause a whole community to collapse if he/she/it would be gone. In conclusion, how we view things are all dependent on the culture we live in. Whether or not we see things as positive or negative depends on our acceptance or cynicism about reality. The film was trying to convey messages by showing the audience the extremes of positive and negative aspect of living in the community. The effectiveness depends on the viewers’ acceptance and understanding of the events occurring in the whole movie. Whether or not it affects how we look at life and the circumstances of it is still dependent on each of us.



Othello II/Lloyd said...

Orfeu is a Brazilian film directed by Carlos Diegues and was released in 1999. It was based on the play Orfeu de Conceicao by Brazilian playwright Vincius de Moraes and is a remake of the 1959 film Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro). The film is about the love affair between the popular composer Orfeu and Euridice in a violent and poor favela (slum area) in Rio de Janeiro renowned for its carnival. It received many accolades including the Cinema Brazil Grand Prize for Best Picture in 2000. Central key themes of the film are morality, violence, and poverty.

Evident in the film is the moral decay of the people residing in the favela. Gang rule in the area is seen as normal. People in the slum area do not give importance to the rule of law and the right to due process. It’s as if these people prefer the law of the streets over law and order. This is shown in the film’s scene wherein a man accused of raping a child is being bullied and tortured by Lucinho and his gangmates. Spectators left as soon as the accused is killed as if they just watched something normal. They condoned it in a way that they not taking any action during and after the unfortunate event. Even more problematic is the fact that the police choose which wrongdoers should be persecuted, leading to unstoppable string of crimes. The community’s loss of morality can be linked to the violent nature of the area. Violence is not condemned neither by the people in the favela nor the police. It can also be said that the drug trade in the area breeds violence.

The incidence of poverty is central to the film. Viewers are exposed to the conditions of people living in a slum throughout the film. Viewers are also exposed to these peoples’ culture which is very similar to that of the Filipino masses. These poor people exhibition of grandness during the carnival is a stark contrast to their everyday miserable lives in the favela. This same occurrence happens in the Philippines – the masses spend everything they have for fiestas, while they barely have nothing and are miserable before and after these celebrations. The film exhibited this disparity, leaving the viewer like thid writer to criticize such incidence wherein people are very much preoccupied on preparing for occasional celebrations than on finding their way out of poverty.

All in all, Orfeu has been successful in presenting pressing social and political problems and issues such as moral decay, the culture of violence, and poverty incidence. Although these issues are not new to viewers, the film presented these issues in a way that a viewer can criticize the way things are in the real world as major characters like Orfeu and Eurydice in the film suffered because of these deep-seated problems. Their fate is a consequence of the unfortunate situation of the favela they are in. The film’s genre did not affect the presentation the social and political dilemmas present in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. It has been an effective medium of political socialization as it exposed viewers like this writer on the consequences of the prevalence of poverty, violence, and moral decay.


denisefrancisco said...


Among the films that were shown in class, Orfeu is one of my personal favorites. The use of vibrant colors, lively music score, wonderful sceneries and elaborate art depicted in the carnival captured my attention. However, I’d have to say that the use of contrasting elements in the plot made the movie more interesting and kept the story going.
In my opinion, the central theme of the story is about poverty, as it focused on the favela, particularly on the lives of the people in that area. It mirrors the type of society where Orfeu and his neighbors grew up. It played a primary role when it came to influencing the way individual personalities were formed, how people interacted with one another, their system of justice, their way of life, morals, and how “rules” as institutions were followed. People living in the favela have contrasting personalities, just like Lucinho and Orfeu. The former is involved in illegal operations such as drug dealing, while the latter is a musician who teaches in a school that performs during the carnival. Compared to the other people in the favela, Orfeu is definitely well off. He has a stable source of income, while the rest of the people depend on donations from Lucinho. The impoverished state of the people in the favela has affected the way they view things. It has somewhat become automatic that Lucinho was regarded as an authority figure, to which the people give due respect. This was evident when the police came to the hill looking for him. Instead of protecting themselves and their families, they were all concerned of Lucinho’s safety. It didn’t matter to them that justice must be served in response to the crime that Lucinho has committed. In fact, even Orfeu, a well respected man in the favela, protected one of Lucinho’s men from getting imprisoned due to drug use.
It was very evident that the values that these people in the favela hold on to are very much different. In this society, they have come to develop a different kind of relationship. For example, justice was viewed in a different way. There were no set of formal rules followed. Instead, people lived their lives in accordance to how they want to, provided that justice was served, no matter how illicit the act of achieving such may be. There was no specific concept of punishment for illegal acts, and most of these consequences were only dictated by Lucinho, who was god-like in the eyes of the people. Looking at it, people lived in “harmony”, not because they were given the freedom and the privilege to exercise their rights, but because they were individualistic. They saw the injustices committed as normal, to the point that they have gotten immune to these acts of violence. What they saw were just normal day to day occurrences. What mattered to them the most was as long as they don’t get harmed, their lives would continue just as they were. And because there was a mutual relationship between them and Lucinho, they do not question him no matter what. All that matters to them is that they get to live a life where their basic needs are answered. There was no issue or question of what is moral or not. It wasn’t their concern to change the erroneous society they belong to. For them, it was a matter of survival and just staying away from trouble, unmindful of the hardships experienced by other people in the favela.

denisefrancisco said...


Orfeu could have been their hero. He could have used the respect he gained from the people as a powerful tool to eradicate the injustices at the favela. Instead, he also became enslaved by his selfishness and individuality. He left his fiancé for Eurydice. He was too focused on his personal life, that he became blinded of what has happening around him. The only time that he stepped up was when Eurydice was killed by Lucinho. And in my opinion, it was too late. Everything fell into pieces. There was no turning back. It was too late for him to change what was happening. In the end, no one was triumphant. It even became more problematic.
Being a part of a society challenges man’s individuality. It is not just about being able to survive in that society and living a peaceful life. It is also a matter of being sensitive to the people around you, making sure that you are able to help them in your own way.


katwinny said...

Carlos Diegues’ Orfeu is a remake of the 1959 film Orfeu Negro. The story is centered on Orfeu, a samba composer and singer, and Eurydice, the new girl in the Carioca Hill. Set on the Rio de Janeiro Carnival, the film shows the grandeur of the festival side by side with the slums of modern-day Brazil.

The film is based on the story of the Greek mythology characters of Orpheus and Eurydice. The two are inseparable lovers until Eurydice got bitten by a snake and died. Orpheus went to the underworld and persuaded Hades, through his music, to get Eurydice back. Hades agreed under one condition, that Orpheus won’t glance back to see Eurydice during their journey back to the world. But Orpheus could not resist and he lost Eurydice to the underworld. Orpheus eventually died when the women tore him apart from limb to limb. Although the film followed this story, it was not that evident as the setting became modern and the focus was on the love story of the main characters. This mythological story was applied to the everyday living of people, hence, the simple story of the film.

One of the strong points of the film is its cinematography. The houses in the Carioca Hill stand out because of their bright colors and designs. The parade during the carnival also became an outstanding visual display through their costumes and stages. This can be compared with how Filipinos celebrate town fiestas. Poverty is never an excuse to celebrate such feasts in a grand fashion. The setting of the film made it easy for me to relate and follow its story. Poverty, drugs and violence mixed with creativity and talent can also be found in our country.

Although the community faces many challenges in life, they have someone to look up to. Orfeu, played by Toni Garrido, serves as the hope and inspiration of their community. He essentially becomes a public property as the community claims ownership of him. Before conflicts with the police and Lucinho began, the viewer can observe that Orfeu does not use his celebrity status to influence people and control the spread of drugs in their community. If he focused less on himself and more with the change he can do, the story may not have ended in a tragedy. This emphasized that each resident attends only to his own business. For the normal residents, they did nothing maybe because their lives were at stake but for someone like Orfeu, who was ‘untouchable’, he could have done more but he chose not to.

One can observe that the state is not able to establish law and order in the favela. This gives an opportunity for Lucinho and his gang to establish their own order and laws. Killing a person is justified by the crimes that person committed. Justice becomes subjective and centered on the hands of Lucinho and his gang members. As a result, right and wrong become subjective also. Can we say that Lucinho is wrong in punishing someone when that person really committed a crime? Can we say that Orfeu is a good person even though he did nothing despite the prevalence of crimes in his environment? Again, it all depends on the context that we are looking through.

Orfeu has a simple storyline compared to the other films we have watched throughout the semester. This simplicity becomes both its strength and weakness. It is easy for the viewers to understand its content but I do not think it is an effective medium for political socialization.


Czarina XD said...

“It is superior to the old one [Orfeu Negro] in many ways but what it gains in sophistication, it loses in enchantment.” – comment, the Internet Movie Database

Orfeu (1991) is a film based on the Vinicius de Moraes’ play entitled Orfeu da Conceição and is considered as a remake of Black Orpheus (1959). It was directed by a highly acclaimed member of the Cinema Novo movement, Carlos Diegues, who is known for his simple and straightforward techniques in pursuing his ideas in film-making. In this film, Diegues was able to incorporate his Cinema Novo roots through dissimilarities in the characters, the setting, and other elements of the film.

Orfeu, the protagonist of the story, was a composer and a musician who’s endeared by a lot of people from his town that even their Chief of police couldn’t lay a hand on him. He became known for his revolutionary, yet very much lighthearted demeanor and had captured the hearts of his fellow Brazilians through his music. Up against him was Lucinho. Lucinho was portrayed in the film as a ruthless drug lord, and was responsible to the death of Orfeu’s love interest, Euridcye. Through these two contrasting characters, Diegues was able to directly showcase the clash of morals by means of their struggle to overcome the other. Consequently, the setting of the film was a shanty hill juxtaposed the affluent Rio de Janeiro backdrop. The Carioca Hill was elevated geographically from the city itself but that did not mean that life on the hill was better. In fact, the place was riddled with poverty, chaos and apprehension. But despite that, it was overflowing with hope, as can be seen by their love of Orfeu and his music. Another significant event used by Diegues to showcase disparities was the Rio festival that even I was left at awe of its glamour; it was something you wouldn’t expect in this kind of film, where the meager roots of the characters were already carefully established since the beginning. And this is where this movie gained complexity and brilliance—in exposing the contrasts that we had never been aware of, including their consequences in our lives. It showed us that we live a life of choice and compromise, just like how Orfeu lived his life in the film: he hanged by the thread, and in the end snapped out and killed someone he never even though he could. But the importing thing is that he accepted its consequences, and as a result, he accepted his whole life for that matter—but that is until he met Euridcye. Her death signified his death, and that was the point where he started rejecting everything, including his life.

And for me, that was the same point where this film started losing its enchantment, its hold on me. As this film can be the modernized version of a myth that still has implications up to this time, its overall impression to me is that everything on it felt “forced”, because of the decisions, or lack thereof, of some of the characters. Euridcye’s role puzzled me until the end, and aside from the fact that she died in a very anticlimactic manner, she wasn’t given much opportunity for her character to develop. The incompleteness in her made me doubt Orfeu’s choice, which is to choose her over the festival and of all the people who had loved him. That was the reason why it came to me as a surprise when he succumbed to his loss and in the end, died the same way as Euridcye—he died “just like that”. Such decrease in terms of enchantment in this film translated to my perception that Diegues went against his simple “a camera in the hand and an idea in the head” credence and that the film had not been effective in conveying its messages in relation to the other films we saw in this class. It was too forced and overly dramatic that the pinnacle of an impending moral clash seemed to not have happened even if it did, for in the end, Orfeu backed down and fell.


tinborja said...

It was different. Relaxing even. Most unlike the other films that we’ve watched in this course. The fact that it’s different though either worked for its benefit. Interesting though it might be, compared to the other films that were viewed in this course, there is something missing in Orfeu that makes it unmemorable to its viewers. Except for the songs, the movie failed to provoke any relevant feeling or intense emotion to its viewers. Even the script was a little weird and cheesy causing the class to squirm uncomfortably in their seats fighting fits of giggles and laughter-call it having low emotional quotient, but then the film was just a tad bit off, at least for me. Does this mean that the film is irrelevant in and of itself?

Indeed, no. It only proves to show that even films that are not as thought or emotion-provoking as the other films we’ve watched are still plausible conveyors of political messages and effective venues for political socialization. It is one thing to acknowledge the fact the film was clouded heavily with the love story of Orfeu and Mira and another to see beyond the veil of their love story to see the settings and the plot and the multiple comparisons and contrasts that one can draw out of the film and society.

A plot patterned after a Greek Mythology makes it a modern classic- a contradiction in itself: classic because it translated years of mythology into that which is the here-and-now, to reflect the modern society. The economic reality and the chaos-created-poverty is another angle of Orfeu that transcends beyond the love story of Orfeu and Mira. In fact, the love story is a candy-coat in itself to cover the harsh realities that the setting depicts in the same way that the festival in the film is the candy-coat, is the temporary escape of the society that Orfeu is in.

It is also worth noting that amongst all the films that we’ve watched, this is the only film that gives a feeling of reality that is close to home. Showcasing a culture that is similar in many ways to ours: what with the scenes of poverty and the colourful festivities add to the drowning culture of drug use and institutionalize poor folks in seemingly God-forsaken areas, the film forwarded a feel of the Filipino culture in it making the depiction of society applicable to ours.

The film Orfeu is not the best there is to watch. What makes it interesting is the play of politics and economics in what would seemingly appear as a simple tale of love and despair between two souls who found each other in the most timely or rather, untimely of situations. What makes it relevant is its depiction of a timeless culture that goes all the way back to the Mythology of the Greeks, edited and revised to fit and reflect a picture of a society that we are, in one way or another, only too familiar with.

remegio said...

What can be noticed in the film was that it tried to convey meaning through the use of contrasts. As was pointed out by the main entry authors, the movie tried to present a stark contrast between the favela and the splendour of the Carnival. It can be said that the movie was not effective in doing so because personally the movie failed to establish the connection of the people of the Carioca Hill to the festival itself. It failed to show how these people could have spent much time, effort and maybe money in order to make their festival presentation something worthy of being first. As to the extent which it showed the absence of hope of moving out of their poverty situation. This failure in my opinion weakened these contrast and made it not very significant.

The movie was rather weak in promoting its political messages in the sense that the movie was really centered at the love strory of Orfeu and Eurydice. Aside from the impressive musicality of the movie, what really is evident is the romantic relationship that has developed between the two characters. I believe that the movie was not able to blend the love story on to what the messages of the movie is and that instead of helping perpetuate the message, it becomes a distraction that blurs the viewers vision on the ought to be conveyed ideas.

Being sidetracked by the love story, the movie weakly showed the degree on which poverty has been “institutionalized” and whole heartedly accepted by the residents of the favela. It also talks about the adverse effects of this such as the presence of a different moral standard embodied in the unconventional rules and regulations “governing” the area. And in this regard, the movie then suggests hope amidst the situation manifested in the character of Orfeu. It is again contrasted to the character of Lucinho, who is the drug dealer managing and master minding the hill’s underground economy and politics. But in the end, even the hope that was represented by Orfeu was smeared when he was killed.

I think the movie is a product of compromise. Compromise in the sense that it was adapted from a play which was then based from a Greek myth and it even had an earlier adaption Black Orfeu(1959). The range of consideration is so vast that making a compromise of all these works results in a disaggregated product. We can see the manifestation of this compromise. The nature of the scenes are not the same. Some scenes although a few, are manifestations of the myth origin of the movie, while most scenes were based on the earlier adaption of the screen play. The focus on the love story maybe was due to some considerations speculatively to make it more attractive and catchy to viewers.

Even though the movie is very entertaining and lauded with praises due to its musical excellence, the movie remains weak in promoting its messages due to its inability to exploit the art of contrast and its compromised nature of production.

Anonymous said...

Part I

Pointing out again that film is a mediated representation or reaction to the mode of production in a particular historical juncture, and the power (in the case of Marxists, economic) relations contained therein. As has been argued, authorial ideology, literary relations, aesthetics, form, and ultimately the mode of production intervene in the mediation process.

Orfeu (1999), as has been pointed out, is the second adaptation of Orfeu da Conceição, completed in 1953 by famed Brazilian lyricist, playwright, critic and diplomat, Vinícius de Morais; the first was Orfeu Negro. The two films being based in the same play, numerous similarities can be observed. Likewise, several modifications can be noted, which, in view of the stated framework, may be explored in relation to the factors listed. In particular, the observed adjustments by Diegues in the more recent film will be juxtaposed to corresponding modes of production, in a broad sense. Authorial ideology may also be explored considering that the director of the first film was French and the second Brazilian.

In any case, the said films were produced during two of the more notable periods in Brazilian history, the Cinema Novo in the 1960s-1970s and the film revival from mid-1990s onwards. Such art movements, again as argued elsewhere, are initiated by changes in social environment. In the 1950s and the early 1960s, Brazil had its second but more meaningful shift from absolute authoritarianism. The political environment was, however, characterized by remnants the authoritarian past and, being a transitionary phase, instability. Nevertheless, it was allowed for industrialization and immigration of Europeans, Arabs, and Japanese. The late 1980s on the other hand marked Brazil’s transition to from a succession of military rule (1964-1985) to a presidential democracy. However, the 1990s, which coincided with the production of the second film, brought “a major crisis with the sudden collapse of the Brazilian stock market” and from 1992, the political system is in “deep trouble.”

The first thing to be noticed in comparing Orfeu Negro and Orfeu is the increased realism in the latter. Diegues says about the first adaptation: “...I was very disappointed because the film had nothing to do with the play and was not faithful to the Brazilian reality...[It is] full of tenderness and love for Brazilian culture, but he [Camus] excludes the social environment.” This may be attributed to Camus being French, filming along the lines of socio-political distance purposed for “fictive entertainment.” In relation to the political context, the threat of censorship is greater during the period of production of the first film. Further, Camus worked for the film and culture institution established by the government.

Anonymous said...

Part II

Beyond such realism, however, certain elements of the film, particularly the incorporation of mythic symbolisms and the presentation of the carnival, generate illusions. The carnival, for instance, creates a sense of “neutralization of hierarchies,” a moment when “the barriers of social position are suspended.” Such suspension however is mythic in that it only provides a momentary escape from poverty for the favelados. This and other forms of myths in the film complicate the seemingly simple plotline of the film, allowing it to present contrasting dualities: life/death, ascent/descent, love/hate, among others.

The modification on the type of music used in the film is also of interest. Grasse argued that the use of rap music in the second film “symbolizes social change because it is not Brazilian born.” Rap music, in the 1990s Brazil, was a popular genre among the urban population. Rap, being a ‘black’ creation imported by the African-Brazilians, became the “most direct, most vitriolic for of political commentary.” As a symbol of pan-African sensibility, rap, in the film, may be seen as establishing the identity of the Afro-Brazilians.

The elimination of ‘black’ in the title also posits social relevance in the examination of the film. Afolabi suggests, to which I agree, that such elimination is an attempt to universalize the problems posited in the film. It attempts to argue that “Brazil [as a whole] will continue to grapple with socioeconomic, political, and racial inequalities that fragment not only the Afro Brazilian population but the entire carnivalesque land of contrasts and ambiguities.”


kristia said...


Known for its colourful and skilfully designed sets and its lively soundtrack, “Orfeu” is a 1999 Brazilian film directed by Carlos Diegues who based it on the play “Orfeu da Conceição” by Vinicius de Moraes. The film is about the most famous samba player in Brazil who has the same name as the tile of the film – Orfeu. Orfeu was someone who was known in places beyond his neighbourhood, and nobody could understand why he still lived in the slums together with the drug dealers and the poor. He was eventually swept off his feet by Euridice, a newbie in their area. The film is set in the context of Rio de Janeiro during the Carnival season.

Although it might initially seem as a basic love story, Orfeu has some underlying messages. The film talks about the issues of poverty, hope, free will and morality.

By featuring the slums in dark contrast with the extravagant festivities of the Carnival, we are given an idea on the “real” situation of the people living in that side of Rio de Janeiro. The people living there reside in houses which look as if they are going to collapse any minute and n number of houses are cramped together in a relatively little amount of space. The poor and the criminals are also considered to be no different from each other, the poor who might not be a criminal is still perceived to be a criminal. But in spite of their situation, when the Carnival season arrives, the slum acquires a new light. The place is filled with music and extravagant costumes are made just for the show. It is ironic how they are able to produce such colourful and lavish costumes even though they are living in a state of poverty. But then again, maybe they allot all that time and money for the Carnival because it gives them hope that they can rise from poverty or it offers them a distraction from their current lifestyle.

Orfeu can be considered as the symbol of hope in this film. At the beginning of the film, we can see children who would knock on Orfeu’s window, asking him to start playing his guitar. As he plays it, the sun rises and the kids would not let him stop playing, saying that if he stops, the sun would go down again. This can symbolize how Orfeu is to his neighbours – he is the sun to them. He is the living proof that people like them can also rise from poverty, one just needs to work hard.

When asked why Orfeu still lives in the slums, he answered that he stayed because he wanted to show the people that there are other means to becoming successful – one does not need to resort to drug dealings and other illegal ways. Somehow, the characters of Orfeu and Lucinho (the drug dealer) can be said to show the idea of free will. The individuals have the freedom to choose how they would want to live their lives, on how they would achieve their goals (and even in determining what their goals are) – they can use their talents to their advantage or they can resort to other easier ways of acquiring material wealth. They can also aim for material richness or emotional richness (by being able to inspire other people).

kristia said...


The concept of morality is also discussed in the film. In here we can see that morality is really situational, it is dependent on the context and the people who are defining it. For example in the slums, killing a person as a means of punishment is something which is allowed. When an old man was killed because he “raped” a girl, the people just watched and accepted what had happened because they already got used to it. Also, a lot of people ask money from Lucinho even though everyone knew that Lucinho got his money from illegal activities. For them, it is not important where the money came from as long as they get to benefit from it – survival may be the most imporant thing.

Overall, Orfeu as a film raises the question on whether the light presentation of the film affects its being a conveyor of political socialization. The film was indeed very entertaining and although the focus of the film seems to be on the love story of Orfeu and Euridice, the film still had some underlying messages that it wants to give to the public, one only needs to look (a lot) more closely.

jolly said...


Flamboyant festival preparations, animated musical scores, crowded shanty homes and tight-knit community relations: Sounds familiar? As much as it hits close to home with its explicit parallelism of Filipino culture, these are just some of these riveting elements that one might think of at the mention of Carlos Diegues' 1999 Brazilian film, Orfeu. Based on the play called Orfeu da Conceição by Vinicius de Moraes, it retells the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice. Clearly, it is a product of Brazilian filmmaking, as it not only reflects their culture of Samba dance and Bossa Nova music, but also the seedy slums or favelas, as well as the underground drug dealers and corrupt law enforcers that tread in the same area.

This much-updated version is a smorgasbord of visual and audio elements that awaken the senses. To a certain extent, I found the film engaging because of its clever use of beautiful Brazilian music and stunning vibrant colors that seem to burst from the screen. It was able to successfully adapt the local culture and retell the story in a creative and timely manner, utilizing the technical details to forward the true character of modern Brazil, amidst the social upheavals of that time.

One of the more ominous themes that I think was explicitly manifested was the disparity between poverty and society’s outlook towards it. As we have discussed in class, the natives of the locale seem to have accepted their circumstance, as their condition has already been institutionalized. The favelas, gunshots, drugs and crimes—these have become the norms, and it seems as though majority did not have any intention to change it. In fact, it was the standard that newcomers like Eurydice had to get used to. This collection of norms and practices has defined the behavior of these specific groups of people in specific situations. However, as mentioned in the main entry, it is ironic that in the advent of the Carnaval, everyone pulls out the stops and delivers the best they can, even if they clearly cannot afford it (echoing an enduring trait of the Filipinos). They find solace in Samba during the festivities as a way of escaping from their true conditions, only to come back to it at the end of the day.

jolly said...


Also, poverty dictates their actions, and explains why some of them (like the thugs of Lucinho) resort to these means to justify their ends. Lucinho himself said that while Orfeu used his music to elevate himself from the chains of poverty, he did just the same by using the gun in whatever method. Like the past films we've discussed, this again brings us to question the nature of morality. Who now defines what essentially is right or wrong? Is there a clear line between what is good (as exemplified by our protagonist, Orfeu) as to what is bad (as symbolized by Lucinho)? I don't think so. In the film, we see that morality is relative, defined merely by the circumstances that it is brought from.

Despite the movie echoing relevant issues that plague Brazil, I do not think it was an effective tool for political socialization. The simple storyline, compared to the other films that we’ve watched, did not seem to evoke the right response, mainly perhaps the situations seemed forced, or was overshadowed by other elements like their use of music (such as in the scene where Orfeu was killed, and the onlookers mourned for his death). One needs to look closely at the gritty details to appreciate the message, as it is easy to get distracted by the extravagance of the film.


Kathrine said...

“My woman, my love, my place before bringing you near it was completely a longing… I am more because I am you” – lyrics of Sou Voce sang by Orfeu in the opening scene.

Based on the play Orfeu da Conceição by Vinicius de Moraes, Orfeu is a 1999 Brazilian film by Carlos Diegues which retells the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice in the modern context of Rio de Janeiro during Carnival. The film is also considered to be a remake of the 1959 Black Orpheus by Marcel Camus. Orfeu is generally a story about Orfeu, his music and his story of love in the context of modern issues revolving poverty, drugs and violence, and morality.

In comparison to the last two films that the class watched – Poison and Clockwork Orange, this film can be considered as a breather. It provided a stark contrast to the dark and shocking stories and scenes presented by both Poison and Clockwork Orange. The film presented various themes behind the colorful and romantic story of the lead character Orfeu. The story generally revolved around Orfeu – his great talent in music, his story of love and his story of setting as an example to the people around him. However, concealed behind these unequivocal stories are the themes of poverty, drugs and violence which go alongside with each other.

In the film, the situation of the poor people was evidently shown. Taken from the context of the urban poor of Rio de Janeiro, the film presented the poverty-stricken situation and living conditions of the people in the poor communities. Using a colorful cinematography and wonderful background samba music, the film showed a nuanced depiction of poverty and the state of the poor people in the story. The movie used colorful cinematography in giving a contrasted state of the poor. In the film’s depiction of an idiosyncratic poverty – the grandeur of the Carnival amidst poverty, we can associate it the Philippines’ celebration of fiestas (feasts). The similar themes of the Philippine and Brazilian culture made the movie easier to consume for me and closer to my understanding.

The story not only revolved on the theme of poverty but also touched themes of drugs and violence. The film took a stand that poverty is one of the main causes as to why people go into drugs and eventual violence. The living conditions in the poor suburbs became a sufficient condition for the people to go into the drug business and the violence that is associated with it. However, as the film later on asserts in the parts where Lucinho decided not to gun down Orfeu and where the right-hand person of Lucinho states that he will kill his son if he learns that his son is under the drug business, there is still hope for change and that these people really do drug business just for the sake of surviving their poverty-stricken lives. The similarities are also shared by the Philippines, wherein some poor people resort to drug and violence in order to live and survive life.

Kathrine said...

PART II- Maxwell

I personally liked the film for its use of contrasts in showing the present situation of the people living in the poor suburbs. Its use of colorful cinematography contrasted the poverty-stricken situation in the favela. I also personally liked the film for I see similarities of Brazilian culture and its picture of poverty to Philippine culture and our poverty situation in the Philippines. The grandeur amidst poverty is a common them prevalent between the Philippines and other Latin American countries. Aside from the amusing cinematography, I also enjoyed the musical scoring of the film; the opening song was pleasing to my ears.

Ultimately, if I will be asked if the film was an effective tool for political socialization, I will say yes for it presented important and relevant societal issues using the story on music, love and hope. It conveyed its message to the public that there is hope within us and that just let this hope inside of us linger on. And personally, I realized that one of the important messages of the film is to serve as an inspiration for others; set as a good example to those who are having difficulty surpassing poverty and the challenges ahead of them. Show the people that there is triumph in hoping.

~Kathrine Maxwell
4th year BA Political Science

LIsBOG said...
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Ina_Partosa said...


We define morality as a social agreement between people in society about what’s good and what should be. It is basically a product of compromise and consensus among the members of a community in order to protect themselves upon encroachment and injustice in their private affairs. But what happens if the moral standards of one section in society are a far contrast to the moral standards of a bigger society where it belongs to? Which standard reigns supreme?

This dilemma was presented in the Brazilian film directed by Carlos Diegues in 1999, Orfeu. This movie, which is a modern version of the Greek love affair between the musician Orpheus and the beautiful Eurydice, tried to show the paradox common in most societies between the rich and the poor through the sharp contrast between the favelas (slums) and the garish and colourful Carnaval.

The cinematography of the film was great. The images were so refreshing to the eyes and the vivid colours of the costumes in the Carnaval was just superb. It made up for the lack of story in the film. The musical score was also great but it could have been used more effectively to present the critiques of the film, which unfortunately, it did not.

Although the film tried very hard to present a social commentary about the lives in the Brazilian favelas and the evident distortion of rules there, one cannot help but ignore the message it was trying to send across. In short, this movie was not as effective as the other movies shown in class, perhaps because it focused more on the growing relationship between the two lead characters, making it just another love story created in the big screen.

There were specific moments where it succeeded somehow, but not fully, like the scene between Eurydice and her aunt, where the latter tells Eurydice that there is no “future” in the slums and they have come to terms with that fact. The general acceptance of the people about the status quo may somehow sound disturbing, especially for a person who got used to a different social norm, but when someone analyzes it deeper, he can somehow realize that it is a common tendency for this kind of society because the existing social norms in the bigger part which they belong to does not work for them. The people are forced to create their own rules and standards in order to uphold the concept of justice and order, which after all is the goal of every society.

Ina_Partosa said...


But is the movie effective enough to move the viewers as to create a moral backlash in the real world? I say no. Aside from the substandard acting and the minimal story, the film was so weak in its attempt to critique the moral distortion in Brazilian favelas. Moreover, it fails to connect to the audience compared to the better films shown in class like the Shawshank Redemption (1994) and Raise the Red Lantern (1991). Although Orfeu and the Shawshank Redemption both discussed the institutionalization of one aspect in life, the former was more effective because it was able to establish a strong plot by showing the personal struggles of the lead character. In Orfeu, the story does not tell us why Eurydice strongly opposes the morals of the hills or why Orfeu is willing enough to give up his life for his lover. It just used the love affair as a reason for the action of the lead characters without telling us, explicitly or implicitly, the significance of these actions.

In the end, we ask ourselves, what is morality and what can be considered good and bad? When a social norm of one part of the society is different from the norms of the majority, can it still be considered moral or not? What really matters in the formulation and development of social standards? Is it the significance of these standards or the consent of the people that will be under it? These are the questions that the film tried to answer but failed to show.

lenggaleng said...


Carlos Diegues' Orfeu (1999) is an adaptation of Viniciues de Moraes' play. It is another interpretation of the Orpheus myth about a musician who leaves his lover for a music carnival. The film tells the story about a samba composer and performer named Orfeu who lives in the slums of Carioca Hill, which is a district of Rio de Janeiro. He is adored and loved by everyone in the slums as he is a well-known great musician in Rio de Janeiro. His life suddenly changes as he meets Euridice, an out-of-town visitor in their place. He fell so deep in love for Euridice that he was even willing to leave his family, the samba school, the carnival and the slums. However, the story ends with a tragedy as both lovers got killed because of hatred and jealousy of Lucinho, Orfeu's close friend, and Mira, Orfeu's former girlfriend.

Just like the other films, there are a lot of themes that can be found in Orfeu. One is poverty, as it is vividly expressed through its very lively and colorful cinematography. The main setting of the film is in the slums of Carioca Hill, which obviously shows a day in a life in the slums. It depicts poverty not only by the small and dirty houses shown, but by the behavior of the poor as well. An example of this is the character of 'Michael', an out-of-school youth who just asks money from people. Another theme of the film is violence as it is portrayed by the character of Lucinho, a street hustler and drug dealer in the Carioca Hill. He and his gang spread terror and fear in the slums with their guns. Furthermore, when a conflict arises in the Carioca Hill, Lucinho's group resorts to violence as the solution to the problem. Above all, I think that love is the central theme of this Brazilian film as one can see romance, love for family, love for music and love for one's living place. This central theme is of course, embodied by the main character, Orfeu.

Furthermore, I would also like to point out the contrasting elements that can be seen in this film. As there is poverty in the slums, it is note-taking that Orfeu, though already is a successful musician, still lives in the slums. One should take note that in middle of the slums, there is Orfeu's house, that contains furnitures and things that cannot be bought by poor people in the slums. It is like there is a well-off person living in a depressed area. Another contrasting element is the music used for this film. Though the scene in the film is sad, the music still used for the scene is a very lively and festive one. The film's cinematography is another thing. While the situation showed in the film is depressing, it still used a colorful cinematography, which is usually used for happy and light scenes in a film.

lenggaleng said...


Now going to its political aspects, I think that one of the main issues found in this film is power. Power in this film is expressed in different aspects. There is the power of Orfeu, as everyone likes to follow him and is well-respected by everyone because of his success as a musician, and there is also Lucinho, who is powerful as Orfeu in Carioca Hill because everyone is afraid of him. I think that Machiavelli's definition of a ruler can be put into a test in this film. Is it really better to be feared by everyone than to be loved? One can see that Lucinho uses violence for people to coerce, while Orfeu uses his charms so people follow him. There is the question of who is a better leader between these two characters. Is an authoritarian better than a charismatic leader?

All in all, I love this film because it tackles a lot of social issues that can also be seen in the Philippines as well. I think that it offers different perspectives on different issues and I can say that the film was made well. I love its cinematography, the story and of course, its music. I love how this film gives me contrasting feelings as I should be sad when there is a depressing scene in the film and yet I feel happy because of its lively music and colorful cinematography.



LIsBOG said...
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LIsBOG said...

Orfeu is a 1999 film remake of the 1959 film Black Orpheus which is based on the play Orfeu da Conceição. Directed by Carlos Diegues, it is basically a film about the love story of Orfeu and Euridice based on the story of the Greek mythological character Orpheus but happened in the Brazilian slums in the time of the Carnival. Orfeu, a famous samba composer in the city and a known womanizer, falls in love with Euridice, who just arrived to Rio de Janeiro after her father died. But within their love story, the film exposes its viewers to the different societal issues that exist in Brazil specifically in its slum areas such as crime, drugs and poverty.

In the film, it showed how strong and influential the drug trade is in their area. Because of that, the leader of this drug ring, Lucinho, and his group has become very powerful in their area especially in regulating “order” by killing off anybody who had done something that they think was wrong. Despite of this, the people in the slum area are not inform the police about the activities of Lucinho‘s group because first, they maintain order and stability in their society and also every time somebody needs help financially, people tend to go to Lucinho to ask some money. In this instance, it shows how institutionalized are crime and drugs within their society and people are just used to the kind of societal values and order that they are experiencing. The people do not try to contest the activities of Lucinho‘s gang because they know that it will only bring harm to them just like what happened to the old man whose tongue was cut off. Changing institutionalized norms and values in a society are quite hard to erase or if so, they might take for a very long time. Because of this, people lose their hope and accept the fact that their lives will forever be the same and will never change. But Orfeu’s character tries to convey to the viewers that do not lose hope and change can be attained if people will wish to do it. There is always time to change things and turn it into a rightful one, people should not let themselves be stuck up with the different societal constraints that exist within their way which prevents them from doing what is good and what is right.

This movie was quite lighter relative to the other films that we have watched in the class because of its musical content and it was presented in a context of a love story. Despite of this, the film was an effective tool for political socialization because it depicted well the different power struggle and the kind of society that exists in a Brazilian slum area given that this film was basically a musical love story. This film was balanced in both the entertainment and substance dimensions but still it depends on the kind of focus that the viewer will have whether on the beautiful music and love story or to the political messages that the film wants to convey to its viewers.

rotcivcumigad said...

Being both colonies and products of the New World division between Spain and Portugal, we cannot help but associate the practices and beliefs of the modern day Brazil and the Philippines. In the 1991 remake of the Black Orfeu by Carlos Diegues, a viewer like me was able to see the similarities of both nations in numerous aspects, and the film was indeed effective in presenting those. Aside from the contrasts presented in the main entries for this film, there are also resemblances that we can also take into account that constitutes the overall constructive impact of this film. And it is in this familiarity that one can appreciate this type of film, though it appeared relatively “light” in relation to the others films we had encountered in this class. Also, in a sense, this film can also be an effective method through which we can ultimately make sense of and relate to what is happening in our own country, for it presents us a detailed, unbiased and at the same time, metaphorical sense of our own current issues as a nation.

It is impossible to not perceive the immediate similarities of the society from where Orfeu was to ours. Orfeu, before he met Euridcye, is a famous samba composer. He had been known for his charisma, and people look up to him as a sign of hope. Amidst the poverty-stricken Carioca Hill, the people from there appeared optimistic, and held on to everything they can despite their status in life. They considered both Orfeu and the Rio festival as something that makes the sun rise, that allows them to go on with their lives, regardless of the threat and dangers of opposing forces present in their community. We get to see the same thing here in the Philippines, that during turbulent times, someone rises above to embody the sentiments of the people, and they hold onto him dearly. Such penchant for the need of a “hero” or someone to look up to that has been presented in the film is undeniably, something we Filipinos can relate to.

I also noticed a resemblance on how the Brazilians and Filipinos both conduct expensive and impractical festivities that is greatly inconsistent with their daily way of living. Like in the Philippines, people, in spite of their struggle to make both ends meet on a daily basis, still celebrate the ‘fiestas’ just to honour the tradition of praising the saints, and the time setting of the film in Brazil also used this kind of contradiction just to portray its messages. The Rio festival in the film was showcased as such an impressive and enchanting spectacle, along with the intricate costumes and more than a thousand of participants that we immediately get to wonder how on earth they pulled that off. The festival placed vis-à-vis the life of the main characters portrayed in the movie became so incongruous, and at the same time, familiar and proverbial to us, Filipinos. Such portrayal makes us, the viewers, assess the degree by which we put prime importance to customs, traditions, and religion over our own primary needs like food and shelter. While these similarities did not completely translate into a sound resolution both for the movie the movie and for us, Filipinos, as to what the director was really trying to convey in this film, the issues it had covered, just like all the films we had watched in this class, provoked our moral curiosity and exposed dilemmas we otherwise wouldn’t admit we are guilty of taking for granted.


migscardenas said...

Carlos Diegues took the risk in remaking a highly regarded cult movie like Black Orpheus. It is a 1999 Brazillian film that is based on a Moraes’s play entitled Orfeu da Conceiçã. It follows the story of Orfeu in a slum area in Rio de Janeiro. The character is based on Greek Mythology specifically the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice. The difference is that the setting is modern and contemporary. Those who watched the original movie can also notice the advances and development in the remake. The use of technologically advanced devices at least in the context of the movie effectively portrays the innovations and the changes in the environment that are being incorporated in the movie.

Compared to the previous films that were screened in class, Orfeu is much lighter and easier to process. Also Brazil as a country is very much related to the Philippines. The issues that are being tackled in the film are the same issues that have been plaguing our country. One of which is the issue on poverty. The setting was a slum area in Brazil. We see places in our own country which resembles the film’s setting. People in those places have a subsistent way of living. Brazil is said to be the ninth largest economy in the world and the largest in Latin America (according to the World Factbook). However, we see a stark contrast when we look at the social issues that the country faces. This means that the gap between the haves and the have-nots is quite large. People flock from the countryside to the city hoping for more opportunities. As we see in the film, the people in the slum area are from far-flung provinces who try their luck in the metropolis. However as they stay in those areas for a longer time, they tend to accept their situation—they get institutionalized. They begin to get used to the environment that they do not aim for a much comfortable life.

They have their own culture and disposition distinct from that outside the area. This questions the kind of morality that they espouse. The debate on whether morality is relative or absolute enters in the picture. The killing of people who have done something wrong against one of them is justifiable. It has become a part of their normal lives as shown in the incident when a man was shot because he took advantage of a little girl. For most of us, killing a person is a taboo and at the same time it goes against our idea of morality. This is why the death penalty in our country has been lifted. We see from the movie that cultures may clash especially in terms of how we delineate what is moral from what is not.

As I was watching the film, I thought of the forthcoming elections. What kind of leaders are we actually looking for? Do we need an Orfeu in our country? Someone who has the charisma that could influence the way people think. Certainly we don’t need someone like Lucinho, who intimidates people through the use of coercive actions. People root for someone whom they can relate to. Politicians acknowledge this as depicted in their campaign ads. But I think that we should base our decisions in other factors other than that. This is why we should get to know the candidates who will be representing us. The film has shown us that even leaders whom we look up to have flaws. They are still people who commit mistakes. Orfeu, even if he could turn the carnival from a mere street celebration to a major event, is not perfect. His family may be one of the most respected in the area but they are not blemish-free. We just have to be critical about these imperfections and how these would affect his or her leadership.

Despite the serious messages that have been conveyed to us by the film Orfeu, this is definitely lighter and easier to process compared to the other films. It was a good film to end the semester. The musical score and the extravagant celebration added to the intensity of the movie. The elaborate spectacle gives us an idea of how the world could be very contradictory. It also goes to show how people can appreciate life despite the hardships and problems.

Kristine Camia said...
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Kristine Camia said...

Week after week, this class never fails to give me a taste of a different type of film. From a very exciting Shawshank Redemption up to the provoking Clockwork Orange, almost all the possible emotions or reactions someone could give a film was already shown in this class. Some films became my favourites while some became the hated. Almost all films made an impact to me except Orfeu.

Orfeu is a Brazilian film by a founder of the cinema novo, Director Carlos Diegues. This film is based on the 1956 play, Orfeu de Conceicao that transferred the Greek myth to the lower classes of Brazil. It is a love story set in a slum area in Rio de Janeiro during the time of the Carnival. But aside from the story of Orfeu and Euridice’s love, the movie also showed the situation in a slum area (specifically the Carioca Hill).Because of poverty and crime, the community became a community inside a the Brazilian community.

And this is where questions on governance and ways of dealing with social problems arise. In places where poverty persists, what must the people and government do to deal with the situation? Is it enough for the government to initiate projects and help the people all the way? Or is it the people’s initiative that is more effective in solving the problems brought by poverty? And in the end, when every attempt failed, is it justifiable to resort to unlawful things to survive?

In this film, we have seen how people see poverty. Through Euridice’s aunt, the hopelessness of poverty was shown. For her (and for many people of the Carioca Hill), poverty in the hill is almost inescapable and that living in the area will not give people a good future. And so because of this, people resort to illegal activities such as drugs to survive and eventually leave the state of poverty. But as shown by Orfeu’s example, he stayed in the area in spite of his fortune as a famous songwriter, he stayed because he wants to set an example that people can get out of poverty in the right way.

And in my opinion, this is very important in dealing with poverty. It is not enough for the government
to design and initiate programs for poverty. These attempts to eradicate poverty will be useless if it’s the people themselves that believe that they are in a hopeless state. And the same thing can also be said in the case of our country. It is not enough to give the poor food stubs and short-term jobs. These may just increase their independence with the government and loose their will to do something on their own to escape poverty.

Another issue we have seen in this film is the issue of drugs. Because of the absence of alternative, many people resorted to this illegal business. They tolerated this kind of transaction inside their community and regarded the leaders of the drug group as the ‘law enforcers’. Because of the failure of the country’s government, a new set of rules was set in the hill. And in a way, these rules and their enforcers isolated the community. They get the security (and some other needs) from a group that they know work against the country’s law. But they tolerated and accepted it. We can almost consider it a community inside a bigger community.

Kristine Camia said...


These are the issues that were presented in the film. Just by looking at these themes, maybe it is difficult to believe why the film did not make an impact to me. There are several reasons why I didn’t like the film. First it is because this kind of movie is not new to me. Removing the Carnival and replacing it with the fiesta, we can almost see a Filipino film. There are several Filipino films I’ve seen that resembles this movie. This is not something that is different for me anymore. Second, there are scenes in the film like Orfeu looking at the mirror and the girl from Lucinho’s group that toss rose petals into Orfeu’s body that seems to be out of place. And lastly, Orfeu’s deep love for Euridice is not convincing. Their love story is good if only it had a good build up. But it did not and it led to a lack of appreciation of their love story.

Overall Orfeu is a good film but it is forgettable. It did not make an impact in the same way Clockwork Orange or Shawshank Redemption did. And aside from the factors mentioned above, maybe it is also because I was already getting used to really different types of films and Orfeu is not so different.