When a woman found shot to death in an Ethiopian hotel room turns out to be a young man, flashbacks during an impromptu inquest reveal the reasons...
The savagery of colonialism and the stigma of homosexuality are inexplicably juxtaposed by a director who seems to know very little about either and the result is an uneasy mix of exploitation elements and pseudo-psychological Sturm und Drang. AFRIKA opens with a soldier mutilating a woman's breasts with a lit cigarette before shooting her in the groin with a machine gun at the roadside checkpoint Professor Philip Stone (Ivano Staccioli) is stopped at on his way to a rendezvous with a woman who was once Frank (Andrea Traqlia), his male secretary. The professor took the teen in after he was viciously gang-raped by his coed classmates and Stone's wife (Maria Pia Luzi, Cavallone's real life spouse), when not making a play for Frank, is trying to rekindle a masochistic romance with her husband who begins to feel he has more in common with his charge. Meanwhile, after his mother disowns him, the boy's sister Jeanne (Kara Donati) tries to break the budding relationship up after her husband took matters into his own hands by arranging the rape. All of this goes nowhere -as does a bizarre sight-seeing safari organized by Stone's friends who show off their superiority to the natives with cutting remarks like "Africa's black because it's dirty" and wondering if the villager breast-feeding her baby is giving it cappuccino as an ox is slaughtered for their feast. It's rather odd to see a lot of "Africa Addio" in a movie ostensibly about the parallel identity crises of a young homosexual and his middle-aged mentor but stranger still, the female nudity and softcore coupling are all of a heterosexual nature. The bisexual Stone was a closet painter and the gay, of course, composes poetry and thinks a sex change will solve everything so, while the premise of a sexual awakening in a savage, primitive land held promise, the ignorance of its subject matter makes for a very muddled movie that borrows most of its depressing denouement from THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON'T THEY? The gay theme would surely have been an unpopular one in Italian film at the time so why AFRIKA was even made is a bit of a mystery -especially so since Cavallone was quoted as saying that if he knew Staccioli was homosexual beforehand, he never would have used him. Filmed on location in Ethiopia during a regime change, the cast and crew were jailed for ten days during a violent uprising and that's too bad because the resulting footage obviously would have found its way into the film as well. Often palmed off as a giallo, fans of obscure Eurotrash will no doubt want to check it out but the appellation is misleading and the scratchy, faded print now in circulation is missing about a half hour -a blessing, reely.
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