Black Orpheus: Love, Death, Symbolism, Samba and Sex!


Above American Actress, Marpessa Dawn gets in the spirit of Carnaval in the classic 1959 film 'Black Orpheus.'

Did you know that Frederick Douglass picked the date of his birthday celebration?

Not knowing his actual birthday, he decided to celebrate his birth on February 14 because he remembered his mother calling him her “little Valentine.”

A different kind of Valentine is coming to the Franklin Historical Museum Friday evening at 6:30. Loosely based on the Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, and set in Rio de Janeiro during Carnaval, Black Orpheus was a co-production among companies in Brazil, France and Italy and remains the most successful Brazilian film ever released in the US.

Visually rich, at its center is a love story – doomed of course – between Orfeo, a local trolley car driver, and the young Eurydice, just arrived from the country to visit her cousin. Of course, there is the matter of Orfeo’s betrothal to another woman, the tempestuous pace of Carnaval, and a mysterious figure who has followed Eurydice from the country with murderous intent.

While there are critics of the film, it remains popular and widely admired more than 60 years after its first showing.

The Boston Globe’s Marjory Adams wrote, It is amazingly exciting -- sometimes, with the quick voluptuous beat of the music, and the mad gusto of the costumed dancers, the pace seems unbearable in its speed and passion. There is realism and imagery; fantasy and truth.”

John Beaufort of the Christian Science Monitor, wrote, Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro) is the most imaginative, colorful, and lyric expression of French “new wave-ism” to reach North American screens...”

The film is rated PG and is presented by “Cinema 80” – a project of the Franklin Senior Center and Franklin Historical Museum. Admission is Free. The museum is located at 80 West Central St. Franklin.  The film is in Portuguese with English subtitles and is about one hour and forty minutes in length.

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