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(aka 'Black Orpheus" or "Orfeo negro" or "Orfeu do Carnaval" or "Orphée noir)

directed by Marcel Camus
USA 19
59

Winner of both the Academy Award for best foreign-language film and the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or, Marcel Camus’ Black Orpheus (Orfeu negro) brings the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice to the twentieth-century madness of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. With its eye-popping photography and ravishing, epochal soundtrack, Black Orpheus was an international cultural event, and it kicked off the bossa nova craze that set hi-fis across America spinning.

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Theatrical Release: June 12th, 1959 - France

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Comparison:

Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC LEFT vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

DVD Box Cover

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 48 - Region 0 - NTSC Criterion Collection - Spine # 48 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

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Criterion (without the extras) also available in The Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films - a 50-disc celebration of international films collected under the auspices of the groundbreaking theatrical distributor. It contains Alexander Nevsky (1938), Ashes And Diamonds (1958), L'avventura (1960), Ballad Of A Soldier (1959), Beauty And The Beast (1946), Black Orpheus (1959), Brief Encounter (1945), The Fallen Idol (1948), Fires On The Plain (1959), Fists In The Pocket (1965), Floating Weeds (1959), Forbidden Games (1952), The 400 Blows (1959), Grand Illusion (1937), Häxan (1922), Ikiru (1952), The Importance Of Being Earnest (1952), Ivan The Terrible, Part II (1958), Le Jour Se Lève (1939), Jules And Jim (1962), Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949), Knife In The Water (1962), The Lady Vanishes (1938), The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp (1943), Loves Of A Blonde (1965), M (1931), M. Hulot's Holiday (1953), Miss Julie (1951), Pandora's Box (1929), Pépé Le Moko (1937), Il Posto (1961), Pygmalion (1938), Rashomon (1950), Richard III (1955), The Rules Of The Game (1939), Seven Samurai (1954), The Seventh Seal (1957), The Spirit Of The Beehive (1973), La Strada (1954), Summertime (1955), The Third Man (1949), The 39 Steps (1935), Ugetsu (1953), Umberto D. (1952), The Virgin Spring (1960), Viridiana (1961), The Wages Of Fear (1953), The White Sheik (1952), Wild Strawberries (1957), Three Documentaries By Saul J. Turell plus the hardcover, full color 240-page book.

Runtime 1:47:32  1:47:56.511 
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.26 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Disc Size: 49,595,466,489 bytes

Feature Size: 29,279,993,856 bytes

Average Bitrate: 31.98 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Bitrate:  Blu-ray

Audio Portuguese (Dolby Digital 2.0), DUB English (Dolby Digital 2.0)   LPCM Audio Portuguese 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
DUB: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Subtitles English, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• 6-page liner notes with Essay by David Ehrenstein
• French Trailer (4:17) 


DVD Release Date: June 8th, 1999

Keep Case
Chapters: 18

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Disc Size: 49,595,466,489 bytes

Feature Size: 29,279,993,856 bytes

Average Bitrate: 31.98 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

Edition Details:

• Optional English-dubbed soundtrack
• Archival interviews with director Marcel Camus (3:23) and actress Marpessa Dawn (5:10)

• Revisiting Black Orpheus (16:27)
• A la recherche d' "Orfeu negro," a feature-length documentary (1:28:47)

• Black Orpheus and That Bossa Nova Sound (18:09)
• Theatrical trailer (4:20)
• 20-page liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film critic Michael Atkinson 

DVD Release Date: August 17th, 2010

Transparent
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 18

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray - August 2010: The 1999 DVD had some egregious edge-enhancement and boosting (see zoomed in capture below). On larger screens this will become more identifiable. Because of this the color schemes of both transfers are quite different. The 1080P rendering tends to look more pale with less detail - but this was a false representation of the DVD. It may have been done to more accurately reflect the original theatrical appearance - I don't know. Regardless, the Blu-ray appears to be far more faithful to the source - if we lose the perception of being crisp with richer black levels. The visuals on the new format edition are consistent and seem to support the film well - although it isn't at the atmospheric levels some have come to expect from HD.

The Blu-ray offers the English DUB as the DVD did along with the original Portuguese but both have a lossless transfer via a linear PCM track. There is a lot of music in the film and it seems buoyed by the HD track. Criterion have improved upon the subtitle font that is offered with the new edition.

 

Extras are stacked with everything but a commentary - there are archival interviews with director Marcel Camus (3:23 from the 1959 Cannes Film Festival) and actress Marpessa Dawn (5:10 from French television) - a feature entitled "Revisiting Black Orpheus" with Robert Stam for about 15-minutes, Black Orpheus and that Bossa Nova Sound for 18-minutes with Jazz historian Gary Giddens and Brazilian author Ruy Castro recalling the roots the film's score and the role it played in popularizing bossa nova sound. A la recherche d' "Orfeu negro," (Looking for Black Orpheus) is a 1.5 hour documentary from 2005 by Rene Letgus and Bernard Tournois tracing the making of Black Orpheus, its cultural and musical roots, and its resonance in Brazil today. It features interviews with actors Breno Mello and Lea Garcia, musician Gilberto Gil, Seu Jorge. Roberto Menescal, and Milton Nascimento; filmmaker Carlos Diegues, film historian Tunico Amancio and Silvio Autuori onetime assistant to director Marcel Camus. As usual all the video features are in HD as is an included theatrical trailer. There is also a 20-page liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film critic Michael Atkinson.

The new Blu-ray really does improve the film's presentation - via both the smoother video in-motion and the lossless audio which is a big part of the production. I really enjoyed the extras that were all absent on Criterion's initial DVD release and it is another package from the company that we endorse. I had forgotten what a great film this is - and the Blu-ray swiftly reminded me.     

Gary W. Tooze

 





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Edge Enhancement halos on the 1999 DVD


 

Screen Captures

 

Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

 


Criterion - Region 0 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

 


DVD Box Cover

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 48 - Region 0 - NTSC Criterion Collection - Spine # 48 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray




 

(aka 'Vaudou')

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