Orpheus in Babylon
Music, myth and realism in the films of Rio de Janeiro
in Screening songs in Hispanic and Lusophone cinema
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The music of Rio de Janeiro's streets and hillsides has played more than a mere supporting role in cinematic representations of the city. This chapter takes the seminal narrative of Orpheus as a starting point for interpreting the role of music in screen representations of Rio de Janeiro since the 1950s, and especially in the performance of ideas of redemption and perdition for a city in crisis. The musical idioms of funk carioca and rap have supplied Afro-Brazilians with a critical and self-assertive language for characterising their place in Brazilian society and culture, a language we could define as 'realist'. This rhetoric of realism is drawn from 'foreign' musical styles whose controversial, critical edge precisely draws attention to the disjuncture between Afro-Brazilian and Brazilian, to the social difference that divides the city from itself, the City of God from Rio de Janeiro .

Editors: Lisa Shaw and Rob Stone


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