Souleymane Cisse's groundbreaking feature makes no concessions to Western attitudes or tastes, but why should it? It's a truly African experience, made from a totally native perspective and set in a timeless, pre-colonial landscape, where sorcery and enchantment are merely extensions of natural law. The story unfolds in the epic tradition of true mythology, with the young son of a despotic tribal magician embarking on a fabulous quest for wisdom and enlightenment, which in the end will not only bring him face to face with his powerful father but usher him into manhood as well. There's a genuine sense of discovery to the film, both for its visionary depiction of Bambara tribal folklore, and also in the thrill of witnessing a local African production break into the international arena. Unlike other examples of Third World cinema this is no simple, primitive anthropology lesson, but a handsome, sophisticated motion picture every bit as luminous as the title suggests.
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