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Kristin Scott Thomas,
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In the last days of 1999, after a few shots of a French supermarket, abundant in food and color, we hear Dramane compose a letter home to his father in Mali whom he then visits in the village of Sokolo. He meets the lovely Nana, and there are possibilities. People place long-distance calls from the post office. "Reaching people," says the postmaster, "is a matter of luck." Contrasts between Paris and Sokolo - between Mali and France and between Africa and Europe - are underscored by voice-over poems and comments by Aimé Césaire. A man dictates a letter to a brother in France: what is the nature of their hardships? People look for their place on this earth. Written by
depicting a small rural village in Mali, Africa, it shows how an agrarian society copes with the slow introduction of technology into their millennia-old society. The battery-operated transistor radio is still the prefered tool for getting information and entertainment (nice scene of man riding a bicycle with a bulky radio wrapped around his chest). The telephone is a new tool, and many people are uncomfortable to talking to someone without actually visually seeing the other party, thus creating some interesting scenes such as someone picking up the receiver but not actually answering and talking until the caller fully identifies himself and explains the purpose of the communication. The helper here is the post office employee that helps callers on the social protocol of how to make phone calls and how to communicate with the reticent receiving-end people. Visually filmed in a mud-brick village, showing small shops, impromptu businesses on the mud flats, the camera moved smartly from angle to angle to show the 360 degree nature of a very interwined society, where everyone knows everyone else, and where everyone else is visually positioned. One technique used in changing location context is showing a barber and his client, then zooming into the mirror, a reflected image is seen in the mirror of a bicyclist, and the camera then rotates to see the real bicyclist, leading to another context. The pace is slow, just as life in rural Mali can be interpreted to be slow by a person accustomed to a faster paced society. Reminded me of some of the black and white movies made in India in the 50s and 60s depicting rural life.
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