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My review of Black Orpheus (1959) by Marcel Camus & 8½ (1963) by Federico Felloini
I believe that for the most part, Camus is quite successful in reimagining and retelling the ancient myth of Orpheus and Eurdice in his film Black Orpheus (1959). However, what makes Camus’s Black Orpheus unique is that instead of reimagining and retelling the tragic tale in the classical Greek setting, the film is set during the Carnaval in Brazil. I think that despite the absence of the classical Greek setting, the reason that no one is able to resist the charm of this film is because the story is re-imagined and retold as beautifully as the original Greek tale. While director Marcel Camus equally focuses on the love story from the Greek tale, he also celebrates the new setting of his film. Dancing, guitar playing, singing, and picturesque shots of Rio de Janeiro can be seen throughout half of the film. Camus not only seems to be retelling the tragic Greek tale but even the festival itself, but of which seem to complement each other successfully.
Although Federico Fellini’s 8½ (1963) revolves around a man, there are two titular female characters in the film as well, his wife and his mistress. When I read about the plot of this film, I had assumed that the female characters in the film would have escaped the filmmaker’s stereotyping, and when I watched the film I realized that I was right. Unlike films in which women are stereotyped, the women in Fellini’s 8½ were portrayed as having a lot of power and wealth, constantly dressed in elegant clothing and fur. Even the décor in the richly furnished apartment of the wealthy wife of the film’s protagonist emphasizes the fact female characters are not being stereotyped in this film, and contrasts with the barren military barracks of her solider lover. I believe that Fellini did his very best not to stereotype any of the females depicted in the film.