The Info List - Black Orpheus

Black Orpheus
(Portuguese: Orfeu
Negro) is a 1959 romantic tragedy[2][3][4][5] film made in Brazil by French director Marcel Camus and starring Marpessa Dawn
Marpessa Dawn
and Breno Mello. It is based on the play Orfeu da Conceição
Orfeu da Conceição
by Vinicius de Moraes, which is itself an adaptation of the Greek legend of Orpheus
and Eurydice, set in the modern context of a favela in Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
during Carnaval. The film was an international co-production among production companies in Brazil, France and Italy. The film is particularly noted for its soundtrack by two Brazilian composers: Antônio Carlos Jobim, whose song "A Felicidade" opens the film; and Luiz Bonfá, whose "Manhã de Carnaval" and " Samba
de Orfeu" have become classics of bossa nova. The songs sung by the character Orfeu
were dubbed by singer Agostinho dos Santos.[6] Lengthy passages of the film were shot in the Morro da Babilônia, a favela (slum) in the Leme neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro.[7][8]


1 Plot 2 Cast 3 Awards and honors 4 Influence 5 Remakes and adaptations 6 In popular culture 7 See also 8 References 9 External links

Plot[edit] A marble Greek bas relief explodes to reveal black men dancing the samba to drums in a favela. Eurydice
(Marpessa Dawn) arrives in Rio de Janeiro, and takes a trolley driven by Orfeu
(Breno Mello). New to the city, she rides to the end of the line, where Orfeu
introduces her to the station guard, Hermes (Alexandro Constantino), who gives her directions to the home of her cousin Serafina (Léa Garcia). Although engaged to Mira (Lourdes de Oliveira), Orfeu
is not very enthusiastic about the upcoming marriage. The couple go to get a marriage license. When the clerk at the courthouse hears Orfeu's name, he jokingly asks if Mira is Eurydice, annoying her. Afterward, Mira insists on getting an engagement ring. Though Orfeu
has just been paid, he would rather use his money to get his guitar out of the pawn shop for the carnival. Mira finally offers to loan Orfeu
the money to buy her ring. When Orfeu
goes home, he is pleased to find Eurydice
staying next door with Serafina. Eurydice
has run away to Rio to hide from a strange man who she believes wants to kill her. The man – Death dressed in a stylized skeleton costume – finds her, but Orfeu
gallantly chases him away. Orfeu
and Eurydice
fall in love, yet are constantly on the run from both Mira and Death. When Serafina's sailor boyfriend Chico (Waldemar De Souza) shows up, Orfeu
offers to let Eurydice
sleep in his home, while he takes the hammock outside. Eurydice
invites him to her bed. Orfeu, Mira, and Serafina are the principal members of a samba school, one of many parading during Carnival. Serafina decides to have Eurydice
dress in her costume so that she can spend more time with her sailor. A veil conceals Eurydice's face; only Orfeu
is told of the deception. During the parade, Orfeu
dances with Eurydice
rather than Mira. Eventually, Mira spots Serafina among the spectators and rips off Eurydice’s veil. Eurydice
is forced once again to run for her life first from Mira, then from Death. Trapped in Orfeu's own trolley station, she hangs from a power line to get away from Death and is killed accidentally by Orfeu
when he turns the power on and electrocutes her. Death tells Orfeu
"Now she's mine," before knocking him out. Distraught, Orfeu
looks for Eurydice
at the Office of Missing Persons, although Hermes has told him she is dead. The building is deserted at night, with only a janitor sweeping up. He tells Orfeu
that the place holds only papers and that no people can be found there. Taking pity on Orfeu, the janitor takes him down a large darkened spiral staircase – a reference to the mythical Orpheus' descent into the underworld – to a Macumba
ritual, a regional form of the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé. At the gate, there is a dog named Cerberus, after the three-headed dog of Hades
in Greek mythology. During the ritual, the janitor tells Orfeu
to call to his beloved by singing. The spirit of Eurydice inhabits the body of an old woman and speaks to him. Orfeu
wants to gaze upon her, but Eurydice
begs him not to lest he lose her forever. When he turns and looks anyway, he sees the old woman, and Eurydice's spirit departs, as in the Greek myth. Orfeu
wanders in mourning. He retrieves Eurydice's body from the city morgue and carries her in his arms across town and up the hill toward his home, where his shack is burning. A vengeful Mira, running amok, flings a stone that hits him in the head and knocks him over a cliff to his death. Two children, Benedito and Zeca – who have followed Orfeu
throughout the film – believe Orfeu's tale that his guitar playing causes the sun to rise every morning. After Orfeu's death, Benedito insists that Zeca pick up the guitar and play so that the sun will rise. Zeca plays, and the sun comes up. A little girl appears, gives Zeca a single flower, and the three children dance. Cast[edit]

Poster by Helmuth Ellgaard
Helmuth Ellgaard
for the German release

Breno Mello as Orfeu Marpessa Dawn
Marpessa Dawn
as Eurydice Marcel Camus as Ernesto Fausto Guerzoni as Fausto Lourdes de Oliveira as Mira Léa Garcia as Serafina

Adhemar da Silva
Adhemar da Silva
as Death Alexandro Constantino as Hermes Waldemar De Souza as Chico Jorge Dos Santos as Benedito Aurino Cassiano as Zeca


Marpessa Dawn
Marpessa Dawn
was not from Brazil, but from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[9] Breno Mello was a soccer player with no acting experience at the time he was cast as Orfeu.[10] Mello was walking on the street in Rio de Janeiro, when director Marcel Camus stopped him and asked if he would like to be in a film.[11] Da Silva, the actor who played Death, was a triple jumper who won two Olympic gold medals, in 1952 and 1956.[12] A young boy who dances across the screen playing a pandeiro grew up to win a national pandeiro-playing contest and play his instrument around the world. Currently, Carlinhos Pandeiro
de Ouro teaches in Los Angeles and at California Brazil Camp.

Awards and honors[edit] Black Orpheus
won the Palme d'Or
Palme d'Or
at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival,[13] the 1960 Academy Award
Academy Award
for Best Foreign Language Film,[14] the 1960 Golden Globe Award
Golden Globe Award
for Best Foreign Film and the 1961 BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film. In the last case, Brazil was credited together with France and Italy. Influence[edit] Black Orpheus
was cited by Jean-Michel Basquiat
Jean-Michel Basquiat
as one of his early musical influences,[15] while Barack Obama
Barack Obama
notes in his memoir Dreams from My Father (1995) that it was his mother's favorite film.[16][17] Obama, however, did not share his mother's preferences upon first watching the film during his first years at Columbia University: "I suddenly realized that the depiction of the childlike blacks I was now seeing on the screen, the reverse image of Conrad's dark savages, was what my mother had carried with her to Hawaii all those years before, a reflection of the simple fantasies that had been forbidden to a white, middle-class girl from Kansas, the promise of another life: warm, sensual, exotic, different."[18] The film's soundtrack also inspired Vince Guaraldi's 1962 album Jazz Impressions of Black Orpheus. Remakes and adaptations[edit]

In 1999, Carlos Diegues
Carlos Diegues
made Orfeu, with a soundtrack featuring Brazilian singer-songwriter Caetano Veloso. The director said it was not a remake of Black Orpheus
but a film based on Vinicius de Moraes' original 1956 play.[this quote needs a citation] In July 2014[update], a Broadway adaptation of Black Orpheus
was announced, to be written by Lynn Nottage
Lynn Nottage
and directed by George C. Wolfe.[19]

In popular culture[edit]

Scenes from the film were used in an unofficial lyric videos for the song "Afterlife" by Arcade Fire
Arcade Fire
from their 2013 album Reflektor.[20] In the 2016 Barack Obama
Barack Obama
biopic Barry, Obama watches the film with his mother at the cinema on Thanksgiving.

See also[edit]

France portal Brazil portal Italy portal Films portal Musical theatre portal 1950s portal

List of submissions to the 32nd Academy Awards
Academy Awards
for Best Foreign Language Film List of French submissions for the Academy Award
Academy Award
for Best Foreign Language Film


^ "M-G-M Cashing In on Oscar Victory: Ben-Hur Gross Expected to Reach 7 Million by Week's End – Spartacus Booked", The New York Times (1923–Current file) 7 April 1960: 44. ^ http://www.houstonpress.com/arts/black-orpheus-6586113 ^ https://www.austinchronicle.com/screens/2002-08-16/black-orpheus-1959/ ^ https://books.google.com/books?id=usccBQAAQBAJ&pg=PA141&lpg=PA141&dq=black+orpheus+tragedy&source=bl&ots=BFiFsJaWyb&sig=4DZpL5-RPxMbkeEl8PV8pKACqeA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiu8IrPt8rYAhUj8IMKHcUoDqc4ChDoAQhVMAs#v=onepage&q=black%20orpheus%20tragedy&f=false ^ https://www.empireonline.com/movies/black-orpheus/review/ ^ Castro, Ruy (1990). Bossa Nova: The Story of the Brazilian Music That Seduced the World. Chicago: A Capella Books. pp. 166–167. ISBN 978-1-55652-494-3.  ^ Valladares, Licia. Social Science Representations of Favelas in Rio De Janeiro: A Historical Perspective. ^ Bellos, Alex. "Movie palace", The Guardian
The Guardian
(14 January 2006). ^ Marpessa Dawn
Marpessa Dawn
on IMDb ^ Hevesi, Dennis (5 September 2008). "Breno Mello, 76, Star of Orpheus, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 February 2012.  ^ Guyot, Jean-François (17 May 2005). "Astro de Orfeu
Negro conhece Cannes 46 anos apos vencer festival". France Presse. Retrieved 25 February 2012.  ^ "Adhemar da Silva". sports-reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved 13 June 2015.  ^ "Black Orpheus". Festival de Cannes. 1959. Retrieved 15 February 2009.  ^ "The 32nd Academy Awards
Academy Awards
(1960) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 27 October 2011.  ^ Fretz, Eric. Jean-Michael Basquiat: A Biography, Greenwood Biographies, 2010, p. 5. ^ Gonzalez, Ed. "The House Next Door: Barack Obama: A Story of Race and Politics", Slant Magazine (22 March 2008). ^ Williams, Tia. "Vintage Vamp: Black Orpheus
Star Marpessa Dawn" Essence, (21 August 2011). ^ Bradshaw, Peter, "Why Obama is wrong about Black Orpheus", The Guardian, 2 February 2009. ^ Purcell, Carey. " Lynn Nottage
Lynn Nottage
Will Pen Stage Adaptation of Black Orpheus; George C. Wolfe
George C. Wolfe
to Direct" Archived 9 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Playbill
(7 July 2014). ^ "Afterlife" on YouTube

External links[edit]

Black Orpheus
on IMDb Black Orpheus
at AllMovie Black Orpheus
at Rotten Tomatoes Black Orpheus
at the TCM Movie Database Black Orpheus
trailer on YouTube Scenes from Orfeu
Negro 1959 on YouTube Criterion Collection essay by David Ehrenstein Culture Vulture review of Black Orpheus Orfeu, 2010 Brazilian musical adaptation (in Portuguese)


Preceded by Woman in a Dressing Gown Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film 1960 Succeeded by The Virgin Spring

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French submissions for the Academy Award
Academy Award
for Best Foreign Language Film


Monsieur Vincent
Monsieur Vincent
(1948) The Walls of Malapaga (1950) Forbidden Games
Forbidden Games
(1952) Gervaise (1956) Gates of Paris (1957) My Uncle (1958) Black Orpheus
(1959) La Vérité (1960)


Last Year at Marienbad
Last Year at Marienbad
(1961) Sundays and Cybele
Sundays and Cybele
(1962) The Fire Within
The Fire Within
(1963) The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
(1964) Pierrot le Fou
Pierrot le Fou
(1965) A Man and a Woman
A Man and a Woman
(1966) Live for Life (1967) Stolen Kisses
Stolen Kisses
(1968) My Night with Maud (1969) Hoa-Binh (1970) Ramparts of Clay (1971) The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
(1972) Day for Night (1973) Lacombe, Lucien
Lacombe, Lucien
(1974) India Song
India Song
(1975) Cousin, cousine (1976) Madame Rosa
Madame Rosa
(1977) Get Out Your Handkerchiefs
Get Out Your Handkerchiefs
(1978) A Simple Story (1979) The Last Metro
The Last Metro


Diva (1981) Coup de Torchon (1982) Entre Nous (1983) So Long, Stooge
So Long, Stooge
(1984) Three Men and a Cradle (1985) Betty Blue
Betty Blue
(1986) Au revoir, les enfants (1987) La Lectrice (1988) Camille Claudel (1989) Cyrano de Bergerac (1990) Van Gogh (1991) Indochine (1992) Germinal (1993) Wild Reeds
Wild Reeds
(1994) French Twist (1995) Ridicule
(1996) Western (1997) The Dreamlife of Angels
The Dreamlife of Angels
(1998) East/West
(1999) The Taste of Others
The Taste of Others


(2001) 8 Women
8 Women
(2002) Bon Voyage (2003) The Chorus (2004) Joyeux Noël
Joyeux Noël
(2005) Avenue Montaigne (2006) Persepolis (2007) The Class (2008) A Prophet
A Prophet
(2009) Of Gods and Men (2010) Declaration of War (2011) The Intouchables
The Intouchables
(2012) Renoir (2013) Saint Laurent (2014) Mustang (2015) Elle (2016) BPM (Beats per Minute)
BPM (Beats per Minute)

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Academy Award
Academy Award
for Best Foreign Language Film

1947–1955 (Honorary)

1947: Shoeshine – Vittorio De Sica 1948: Monsieur Vincent
Monsieur Vincent
– Maurice Cloche 1949: Bicycle Thieves
Bicycle Thieves
– Vittorio De Sica 1950: The Walls of Malapaga – René Clément 1951: Rashomon
– Akira Kurosawa 1952: Forbidden Games
Forbidden Games
– René Clément 1953: No Award 1954: Gate of Hell – Teinosuke Kinugasa 1955: Samurai, The Legend of Musashi – Hiroshi Inagaki


1956: La Strada
La Strada
– Federico Fellini 1957: Nights of Cabiria
Nights of Cabiria
– Federico Fellini 1958: My Uncle – Jacques Tati 1959: Black Orpheus
– Marcel Camus 1960: The Virgin Spring
The Virgin Spring
– Ingmar Bergman 1961: Through a Glass Darkly – Ingmar Bergman 1962: Sundays and Cybele
Sundays and Cybele
– Serge Bourguignon 1963:
– Federico Fellini 1964: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
– Vittorio De Sica 1965: The Shop on Main Street
The Shop on Main Street
Ján Kadár & Elmar Klos 1966: A Man and a Woman
A Man and a Woman
– Claude Lelouch 1967: Closely Watched Trains
Closely Watched Trains
– Jiří Menzel 1968: War and Peace – Sergei Bondarchuk 1969: Z – Costa-Gavras 1970: Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion
Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion
– Elio Petri 1971: The Garden of the Finzi Continis – Vittorio De Sica 1972: The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
– Luis Buñuel 1973: Day for Night – François Truffaut 1974: Amarcord
– Federico Fellini 1975: Dersu Uzala – Akira Kurosawa


1976: Black and White in Color
Black and White in Color
– Jean-Jacques Annaud 1977: Madame Rosa
Madame Rosa
– Moshé Mizrahi 1978: Get Out Your Handkerchiefs
Get Out Your Handkerchiefs
– Bertrand Blier 1979: The Tin Drum – Volker Schlöndorff 1980: Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears
Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears
– Vladimir Menshov 1981: Mephisto – István Szabó 1982: Volver a Empezar ('To Begin Again') – José Luis Garci 1983: Fanny and Alexander
Fanny and Alexander
– Ingmar Bergman 1984: Dangerous Moves
Dangerous Moves
– Richard Dembo 1985: The Official Story
The Official Story
– Luis Puenzo 1986: The Assault – Fons Rademakers 1987: Babette's Feast – Gabriel Axel 1988: Pelle the Conqueror
Pelle the Conqueror
– Bille August 1989: Cinema Paradiso – Giuseppe Tornatore 1990: Journey of Hope – Xavier Koller 1991: Mediterraneo – Gabriele Salvatores 1992: Indochine – Régis Wargnier 1993: Belle Époque – Fernando Trueba 1994: Burnt by the Sun
Burnt by the Sun
– Nikita Mikhalkov 1995: Antonia's Line
Antonia's Line
– Marleen Gorris 1996: Kolya
– Jan Svěrák 1997: Character – Mike van Diem 1998: Life Is Beautiful
Life Is Beautiful
– Roberto Benigni 1999: All About My Mother
All About My Mother
– Pedro Almodóvar 2000: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
– Ang Lee


2001: No Man's Land – Danis Tanović 2002: Nowhere in Africa – Caroline Link 2003: The Barbarian Invasions
The Barbarian Invasions
– Denys Arcand 2004: The Sea Inside
The Sea Inside
– Alejandro Amenábar 2005: Tsotsi
– Gavin Hood 2006: The Lives of Others
The Lives of Others
– Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck 2007: The Counterfeiters – Stefan Ruzowitzky 2008: Departures – Yōjirō Takita 2009: The Secret in Their Eyes
The Secret in Their Eyes
– Juan J. Campanella 2010: In a Better World
In a Better World
– Susanne Bier 2011: A Separation – Asghar Farhadi 2012: Amour – Michael Haneke 2013: The Great Beauty
The Great Beauty
– Paolo Sorrentino 2014: Ida – Paweł Pawlikowski 2015: Son of Saul
Son of Saul
– László Nemes 2016: The Salesman – Asghar Farhadi 2017: A Fantastic Woman
A Fantastic Woman
– Sebastián Lelio

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Palme d'Or
Palme d'Or
winning films

Union Pacific (1939) Torment (Hets) (1946) The Lost Weekend (1946) The Red Meadows (1946) Brief Encounter
Brief Encounter
(1946) María Candelaria
María Candelaria
(1946) Neecha Nagar (1946) The Turning Point (1946) La Symphonie pastorale (1946) The Last Chance (1946) Men Without Wings (1946) Rome, Open City
Rome, Open City
(1946) The Third Man
The Third Man
(1949) Miss Julie (1951) Miracle in Milan
Miracle in Milan
(1951) The Tragedy
of Othello: The Moor of Venice (1951) Two Cents Worth of Hope
Two Cents Worth of Hope
(1952) The Wages of Fear
The Wages of Fear
(1953) Gate of Hell (1954) Marty (1955) The Silent World
The Silent World
(1956) Friendly Persuasion (1957) The Cranes Are Flying
The Cranes Are Flying
(1958) Black Orpheus
(1959) La Dolce Vita
La Dolce Vita
(1960) The Long Absence
The Long Absence
(1961) Viridiana
(1961) O Pagador de Promessas
O Pagador de Promessas
(1962) The Leopard (1963) The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
(1964) The Knack ...and How to Get It
The Knack ...and How to Get It
(1965) A Man and a Woman
A Man and a Woman
(1966) The Birds, the Bees and the Italians
The Birds, the Bees and the Italians
(1966) Blowup
(1967) if.... (1969) MASH (1970) The Go-Between (1971) The Working Class Goes to Heaven
The Working Class Goes to Heaven
(1972) The Mattei Affair
The Mattei Affair
(1972) The Hireling (1973) Scarecrow (1973) The Conversation
The Conversation
(1974) Chronicle of the Years of Fire
Chronicle of the Years of Fire
(1975) Taxi Driver
Taxi Driver
(1976) Padre Padrone
Padre Padrone
(1977) The Tree of Wooden Clogs
The Tree of Wooden Clogs
(1978) Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now
(1979) The Tin Drum (1979) All That Jazz (1980) Kagemusha
(1980) Man of Iron (1981) Missing (1982) Yol
(1982) The Ballad of Narayama (1983) Paris, Texas (1984) When Father Was Away on Business (1985) The Mission (1986) Under the Sun of Satan (1987) Pelle the Conqueror
Pelle the Conqueror
(1988) Sex, Lies, and Videotape
Sex, Lies, and Videotape
(1989) Wild at Heart (1990) Barton Fink
Barton Fink
(1991) The Best Intentions
The Best Intentions
(1992) Farewell My Concubine (1993) The Piano
The Piano
(1993) Pulp Fiction
Pulp Fiction
(1994) Underground (1995) Secrets & Lies (1996) Taste of Cherry
Taste of Cherry
(1997) The Eel (1997) Eternity and a Day
Eternity and a Day
(1998) Rosetta (1999) Dancer in the Dark
Dancer in the Dark
(2000) The Son's Room
The Son's Room
(2001) The Pianist (2002) Elephant (2003) Fahrenheit 9/11
Fahrenheit 9/11
(2004) The Child (2005) The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006) 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
(2007) The Class (2008) The White Ribbon
The White Ribbon
(2009) Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
(2010) The Tree of Life (2011) Amour (2012) Blue Is the Warmest Colour
Blue Is the Warmest Colour
(2013) Winter Sleep (2014) Dheepan
(2015) I, Daniel Blake (2016) The Square (2017)

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and Eurydice


Eurydice Orpheus

Orphean operas

Euridice (1600, Peri) Euridice (1602, Caccini) L'Orfeo
(1607, Monteverdi) La morte d'Orfeo (1619, Landi) Orfeo (1647, Rossi) Orfeo (1672, Sartorio) La descente d'Orphée aux enfers
La descente d'Orphée aux enfers
(c. 1686, Charpentier) Orpheus
(1726, Telemann) Orfeo ed Euridice
Orfeo ed Euridice
(1762, Gluck)


L'anima del filosofo
L'anima del filosofo
(1791, Haydn) Orpheus
in the Underworld (1858, Offenbach) Orpheus
und Eurydike (1921, Krenek) L'Orfeide
(1925, Malipiero) Orpheus and Eurydice
Orpheus and Eurydice
(1975, Zhurbin, rock opera) The Mask of Orpheus
(1986, Birtwistle) The Second Mrs Kong
The Second Mrs Kong
(1994, Birtwistle) The Corridor (2009, Birtwistle)


& Eurydice


Eurydice/Point of Departure (1941, Anouilh) Orfeu da Conceição
Orfeu da Conceição
(1956, de Moraes) Orpheus
Descending (1957, Williams) Eurydice
(2003, Ruhl)


The Orphic Trilogy

The Blood of a Poet
The Blood of a Poet
(1930) Orphée (1950) Testament of Orpheus

Black Orpheus
(1959) Evrydiki BA 2O37
Evrydiki BA 2O37
(1975) Parking (1985) Orfeu


Sir Orfeo
Sir Orfeo
(c. late thirteenth century) The Tale of Orpheus
and Erudices his Quene (c. 1480) Sonnets to Orpheus
(1922) "Eurydice" (1999)


The Einstein Intersection (1967) Gravity's Rainbow
Gravity's Rainbow
(1973) The Medusa Frequency
The Medusa Frequency
(1987) The Ground Beneath Her Feet
The Ground Beneath Her Feet
(1999) Veniss Underground
Veniss Underground


Landscape with Orpheus
and Eurydice


Reflections (1970) Abattoir Blues / The Lyre of Orpheus
(2004) Metamorpheus
(2005) Hadestown
(2010) Orfeas (2010) Reflektor


(1948) Chaconne (1976)

Video games

The Battle of Olympus Don't Look Back


The Gaze of Orpheus Orpheus
Monument Orpheus