• Mooka Chanel

How "Guava Island" is a modern-day "Black Orpheus"

The multi-hyphenated entertainer, Donald Glover has proven that he has many tricks up his sleeve and his first feature project film "Guava Island" is one of them. Festival season is here and to kick off Coachella weekend, the Amazon original film was free for all to stream until Saturday evening when it became exclusive for Prime subscribers. The Brazilian inspired film starred a few familiar faces such as the entertainer turned mogul Rihanna and actress Letitia Wright. The film was directed by the director Hiro Murai and it was filmed in the beautiful streets of Cuba.

As I watched the film, I couldn't help but to pick up on the "Black Orpheus" references. Black Orpheus (Orfeo Negro) is a Brazilian romantic tragedy film that was directed by the French director, Marcel Camus. The film starred the legendary actress Marpessa Dawn and actor Breno Mello. The film was released in the year of 1959. Black Orpheus retells the story of the Brazilian folk tale "Orpheus and Eurydice"

The film is filed with beautiful imagery of black and brown bodies dancing in the style of Samba while the characters engage in festival culture. A very similar festival takes place in the film "Guava Island".

Pictured above is a scene from Black Orpheus.

Pictured above is a behind the scenes image from Guava Island.

In the film, Guava Island Rihanna's character, "Kofi Novia", reminds me a lot of Marpessa Dawn's character "Eurydice" in Black Orpheus. The two women exude the same casual seductiveness as their own entities. I think it was an intentional decision to cast Rihanna for the role of "Kofi" for this film through observing the similarities between the two films. Even the styling for the film is mirrors the culture that was displayed in Black Orpheus.

Although both films mirror each other in different ways, Guava Island still makes a statement of it's own. The film touches on array of topics and theme's such as, capitalism, black love, gun violence, and the responsibility of an artist.

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