It is the dawn of Senegal's independence from France, but as the citizens celebrate in the streets we soon become aware that only the faces have changed. White money still controls the ... See full summary »
It is the dawn of Senegal's independence from France, but as the citizens celebrate in the streets we soon become aware that only the faces have changed. White money still controls the government. One official, Aboucader Beye, known by the title "El Hadji," takes advantage of some of that money to marry his third wife, to the sorrow and chagrin of his first two wives and the resentment of his nationalist daughter. But he discovers on his wedding night that he has been struck with a "xala," a curse of impotence. El Hadji goes to comic lengths to find the cause and remove the xala, resulting in a scathing satirical ending. Written by
One of the more famous African films, Xala comes from Senegalese director Ousmane Sembene, who had a well liked film that saw fairly wide release last year called Moolaadé. Moolaadé, for some reason, hasn't been released on DVD yet in the US, and, so far, it doesn't look like there's any imminent release. New Yorker video has provided us with two new DVDs from Sembene, this and Mandabi. Xala tells the story of a corrupt government official, El Hadji, who marries his third wife using pilfered funds. When El Hadji goes to consummate his marriage, he finds out he has been cursed with impotence, a curse known as xala. The historical context is slightly after Senegal's independence is achieved, and there are obvious metaphoric meanings of the impotence. The story and the politics behind it are rather interesting, and if I were the type to judge films solely on their politics I'd call this a good one. Unfortunately, the film moves so ungodly slowly that it is next to impossible to sit through. It runs for slightly over two hours, but has only about half that much material. I might recommend it to those interested in the history or just the region, but the rewards are limited. In short, it's a chore.
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