Just a few days ahead of its release of Reflektor, indie band Arcade Fire had the crazy inspiration to stream its latest album to the feverish visuals of the 1959 Marcel Camus movie Black Orpheus. This Oscar-winning film was set in Rio during Carnival. Check out these time stamps to experience Rio de Janeiro accompanied by the strains of an unexpected musical score.
Much of the film takes place in Morro da Babilonia, a ridge near Botafogo above Copacabana Beach that is home to a hundred-plus-year-old favela (a dense, makeshift shanty town).
Huge, heart-shaped, and dotted with islands, scenic Guanabara Bay is locally known as “the bosom of the sea.”
We see a tram—Rio’s last existing one—with a sign marked Babilonia set off for Morro da Babilonia. Babylon Mountain, together with Sugarloaf Mountain and Urca’s Mountain, boasts 270 climbing routes.
This colonial-style conveyance, built in the mid-18th century, is also known as Arcos de Lapa. It’s one of the best ways to get from the city center to Santa Teresa, a popular and colorful neighborhood known for its artists and bohemian flair.
At the pinnacle of 2,300-foot-tall Corcovado Mountain is arguably Rio’s most significant and most frequently photographed monument. Here we see children playing, with Christ the Redeemer visible in the background; this concrete and soapstone statue is in the art deco style and dates from 1931. The train makes the ascent every day, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., at 30-minute intervals.
The movie offers an insider-y view of the favelas, as the characters engage in various amorous entanglements amid squalid conditions. In the late 1800s, the first favelas became populated by soldiers and former slaves who had nowhere else to live. Today the favelas, to varying degrees, contain high levels of poverty and disease, but also strong community bonds and cultural interest, so much so that “favela tourism” has become a boon to these dense and sprawling neighborhoods.
An explosion of color and revelry, Carnival is held every year before Lent. This friendly competition between hundreds of local samba schools—namely, social clubs, some of them representing favelas—features outrageous costumes and floats. This year’s Carnival begins on February 28 and runs through March 4.
This lonely spire marks the major thoroughfare of Avenida Rio Branco (formerly Avenida Central), which cuts through the city center.
To the right of the hero, who carries the body of his beloved, is Sugarloaf Mountain, which rises from a peninsula near the mouth of Guanabara Bay. In this shot, Sugarloaf hides the white crescent of Copacabana Beach. (See also 44:37.)