Doctor Drauzio Varella worked in this place for over 12 years and recounts stories of crime, revenge, love, friendship and massacre in the book Carandiru Station (Estação Carandiru) from which this film was adapted by Fernando Bonassi, Hector Babenco, and Victor Navas and directed by Babenco (Pixote, The Kiss of the Spider Woman). The objective, it would seem, is to reveal the truth about a menacing place of incarceration.
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A modern retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, the Brazilian import "Orfeu" skits its source material to such a degree that the film becomes little more than a templated ghetto love tragedy set in an exotic locale.
The myth tells the story of a musician who played the lyre so beautifully that no one and nothing could resist his song. When his true love dies from a snakebite, Orpheus is overcome with grief and descends into the Underworld to win her back from the dead with his music. Soothed by Orpheus's melodies, Hades agrees to let Eurydice return to the land of the living, but only if Orpheus leads her to the surface without looking back until they both reach sunlight. Desperate to make sure she's behind him, he blows it, turning around when he emerges out of the ground, condemning Eurydice back to her death.
The Orfeu of the film (Tony Garrido) is Rio de Janeiro's most celebrated samba composer, who lives in a hillside shantytown so as not to forget his roots. He's a handsome, brazen Romeo as famous for his seduction of dozens of girls as he is for being the star performer of the city's famous Carnaval celebration.
Continue reading: Orfeu Review
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