The work of Marcel Camus is characterized by a lyricism which, although central to his fine films of the 1950s and 60s--"Fugitive in Saigon "(1957), "Black Orpheus" (1959) and "Vivre la nuit" (1968)--...
Oscar-winning Brazilian movie Black Orpheus is heading to Broadway as a new musical. Playwright Lynn Nottage will pen the script for the stage show, which Lucky Guy's George C. Wolfe will direct.
The 1959 film, helmed by Frenchman Marcel Camus, was based on the Vinicius de Moraes play Orfeu de Conceicao, a modern adaptation of the Greek myth of poet and prophet Orpheus, who tried to bring his wife Eurydice back to life with the sound of his music.
Black Orpheus, which won the Best Foreign Language Film at the 1960 Academy Awards, helped to popularise the sound of bossa nova music thanks to a soundtrack by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luiz Bonfa. Some of their songs will also be included in the stage musical.
A premiere date for Black Orpheus' Broadway debut has yet to be set.
Having lived with it for a while, I don't dislike the new Arcade Fire album, Reflektor, nearly as much as the Washington Post did. If nothing else, co-producer James Murphy (ex-LCD Soundsystem) gives the album some grooves, but unfortunately, Win Butler is still the most humorless and self-important frontman in rock since Bono, and the album as a whole feels overblown in the same way that both Neon Bible and The Suburbs did.
So if you've got an hour and 47 minutes to kill, skip Reflektor and watch Marcel Camus' 1959 film Black Orpheus instead. Arcade Fire brought new attention to the film last weekend when the pre-release album preview stream on YouTube was set to scenes of this Brazilian classic. Arcade Fire claim that, like the film, their album is based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, although unlike the basically incomprehensible album, you can see the connection between the film and the myth.
Exquisitely shot and vibrantly colorful, the film was shot in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro during Carnaval, making it a feast for both the eyes and ears. Especially the ears: the soundtrack, by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Luiz Bonfa, introduced the Northern Hemisphere to bossa nova, the exquisite and stylish blend of samba and American jazz that was native to Rio. Watch the film on its Criterion Collection DVD or Blu-Ray for extra features that put the film into its full musical and historical context, or via Netflix for the film itself. And don't forget to listen to the absolutely essential soundtrack via Spotify.
Earlier this week, Arcade Fire revealed the cover art to their forthcoming fourth album, Reflektor, out October 29 on Merge Records. As befitting the Canadian collective's ever more elaborate album concepts, the sleeve features a piece of classical statuary depicting Orpheus rescuing Eurydice from the underworld. If you know the myth, that explains why the male figure is shading his eyes (no spoilers here!). But if you don't know the story, it looks as if he's performing that favorite internet meme, the facepalm. Or, as my friend Paul put it when he saw the sleeve, it looks like he's just found out that the band being called "Coldplay for hipsters" isn't meant as a compliment.
To be fair, the title track sounds a lot less overblown than 95% of The Suburbs did, and the Anton Corbijn-directed video is genuinely extremely cool-looking. Although the combination of Corbijn's video and David Bowie's guest vocals suggests Arcade Fire has reached the "working alongside our idols" stage of their career, and the fact that the single is being released under the band name "The Reflektors" is a little cute. There's also an interactive video much like the one they released for The Suburbs' first single. That Carnival-esque video, which requires the use of your smartphone or tablet's camera, is highly reminiscent of Marcel Camus' 1959 film Black Orpheus. Which brings us right back to the faceplaming Orpheus up there. I'm sure it's all make sense eventually. Including why they spelled the album title like that.
More:5 Albums That Sound Like FallFall's 15 Most Anticipated AlbumsNeko Case Fights Into Our Hearts
From Our Partners:40 Most Revealing See-Through Red Carpet Looks (Vh1)15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)
Feature film directing debut, "Mort en fraud/Fugitive in Saigon"
First feature as assistant director, "Cela s'appelle l'aurore," directed by Luis Bunuel
Short film directing debut, "Renaissance du Havre"
The work of Marcel Camus is characterized by a lyricism which, although central to his fine films of the 1950s and 60s--"Fugitive in Saigon "(1957), "Black Orpheus" (1959) and "Vivre la nuit" (1968)--later deteriorated into superficial sentimentality.
Camus was a professor of painting and sculpture before breaking into film as an assistant to Alexandre Astruc, Georges Rouquier and Jacques Becker, among others. During this period he made his first film, a short documentary called "Renaissance du Havre" (1950).
Like many French filmmakers whose first chance to direct a feature came in the postwar era, Camus chose to deal explicitly with the issue of personal sacrifice in the context of war. But unlike most of his colleagues who quite naturally dealt with WWII, Camus took as his subject the war in Indochina. Based on a novel by Jean Hougron, "Fugitive in Saigon" depicts a village caught between two fronts. Its only possibility of survival involves the destruction of a dam on which it depends.
Camus then embarked on three films in collaboration with scenarist Jacques Viot. The first, "Black Orpheus", brought him international acclaim. Winner of the 1959 grand prize at Cannes and an Academy Award as best foreign language film, this exotic modern adaptation of the Greek legend portrays its Orpheus (Breno Mello) as a streetcar conductor who meets his Eurydice (Marpessa Dawn) and lives out his legendary destiny during the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro.
The next two Camus-Viot collaborations, "Os Bandeirantes" (1960) and "Dragon Sky" (1962), were generally well received, but neither lived up to the expectations created by "Black Orpheus". "Vivre la nuit" (1968), an affecting portrait of nocturnal Paris, proved successful, but "Un ete sauvage" (1970) was generally recognized as an inauthentic and superficial evocation of young people on vacation in Saint-Tropez.
Camus then returned to the subject of war, this time with a gentle comedy about a Normandy restaurant owner who becomes a hero of the Resistance in spite of himself. "Le Mur de l'Atlantique" (1970) offered a rich role for comic actor Bourvil, but was essentially a routine commercial product. This unfortunate trend continued with "Otalia de Bahia" (1977), a spaghetti western titled "Trinita voit rouge" (1975) and some unexceptional work for French TV.