I must add that when I saw first saw Black Orpheus in the early 1960s, I was thrilled by Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Latin dance-beat score, but I was totally creeped out by the exoticizing of people of color. I can’t imagine that my experience of the film will change when I see it this time around at the Quad.
Perhaps in today's world, it seems a bit too exoticized, a bit too in love with a fantasy vision of Brazil. But this isn't just a wallow in otherness: Especially in the film's early scenes, Camus places the traditions and wonder of Carnaval in the context of a developing country where big office buildings and the trappings of modernity are all around. The film is ultimately about the mystery that always lurks beneath the everyday.
Don't be stupid, I shall be told, that isn't what the film is about at all: it is first and foremost a collection of Baroque and sumptuous images. A document on beauty, in fact. Like Zazie, I say politely, 'My eye!' to anyone who tells me that Jean Bourgoin's images are beautiful. They do not even have the excuse of intending to be picture-postcards like South Pacific.