Ready for Triodion, Carnival, Mardi Gras, Lent?

There was grim news from Rio de Janeiro this week that many of the world-famous samba schools are devastated after the fires that tore through the city’s carnival warehouse district. There’s also news rumbling out of New Orleans already about a legal challenge to protect the rights of traditional costume designers to protect their designs. National Public Radio featured a story on Creole Indians hoping to copyright and, thus, earn some income from their elaborate Mardi Gras costumes. They’re getting help in their efforts from a legal expert on the Tulane faculty, Ashlye Keaton, according to the Washingotn Post.

Yes, Lent is coming. Earlier we reported on “Our Lent” as an inspirational option.

This Sunday, February 13, is the first official pre-Lenten observance: It’s the start of the Eastern Orthodox Triodion, and we’ve got that story—complete with fascinating links—in our Festivals and Holidays column now.

From tradition to innovation: New Orleans is pushing its Rock ‘n’ Roll Mardis Gras Marathon, also this Sunday. It’s not as spiritually sublime as the Triodion, but the Times-Picayune estimates the footrace pumps milions of much-needed revenue into coffers of local businesses.


When “Black Orpheus” hit American shores in 1959, the samba beat rolled like a tidal wave from coast to coast. The New York Times called the movie “intoxicating.” Director Marcel Camus walked away with an armload of awards: Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film and even the Palme d’Or from Cannes.

Half a century later, as you’ll find in the “Extras” in the new Criterion edition of “Black Orpheus,” the film has its critics. Camus was French, not Brazilian. The movie so effectively turns the slums of Rio into a lavish musical backdrop that the desperation of slum-dwellers is all but eclipsed. In 1959, native-born Brazilian filmmakers were angry to see a foreigner win worldwide praise for the first blockbuster movie from Rio. There are lots of ways to critique the film now.

But, we just previewed the Criterion Blu-ray and agree with Criterion film archivists that “Black Orpheus” still rocks the world with samba culture. You can’t watch this movie and not feel toe-tapping happy. Plus, if you’re intrigued by the power of the arts in Rio, you just might be moved to reconsider our earlier review of “Only When I Dance,” a new movie about hopeful young dancers from the slums.

Doubt our “take” on the film? Well, President Barack Obama’s autobiography says that “Black Orpheus” was his mother’s favorite movie. So, the Times recommends it, ReadTheSpirit—and the president, too.

Lent is coming for 2 billion Christians around the world—most of whom are poor people, most of whom aren’t Americans. It’s a wonderful opportunity to explore global connections through culture.

You can order Black Orpheus (The Criterion Collection) from Amazon now. Or, if you have the equipment to view it, you’ll dazzle your eyes with Black Orpheus (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

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