Orfeu Negro - Black Orpheus (1959) dir. Marcel Camus
Black Orpheus is a Brazilian movie in the same way Slumdog Millionaire is an Indian movie. Orpheus was a French production with a French director, but starring (mostly) locals, featured a celebrated national musician and gave Europeans and North Americans a 'taste of the local flavor.'
Like Slumdog Millionaire and unlike many works by Rudyard Kipling, Black Orpheus doesn't strike as exploitative. The story is told through the eyes of Brazilians, and doesn't condescend to them. The film is in Portuguese and has an authenticity that belies knowledge of local life.
However, its European origins are unmistakable. It plays like a great number of late-50's Hollywood musicals - only the language and musical style separates it from one of the many Rogers and Hammerstein knockoffs of the era.
Is it "authentic," or does it just seem that way to a cinematic tourist? Even if the Rio Carnival exists only in the world of Black Orpheus, its still a wonderful Rio.
Black Orpheus is #904 on the Top 1000 Films list I’m working on. I’ve now seen 378.