Bamako. Melé is a bar singer, her husband Chaka is out of work and the couple is on the verge of breaking up... In the courtyard of the house they share with other families, a trial court ... See full summary »
A once-prosperous Senegalese village has been falling further into poverty year by year until the village's elders are reduced to selling town possessions to pay debts. Linguère, a former ... See full summary »
Djibril Diop Mambéty
Djibril Diop Mambéty,
Bamako. Melé is a bar singer, her husband Chaka is out of work and the couple is on the verge of breaking up... In the courtyard of the house they share with other families, a trial court has been set up. African civil society spokesmen have taken proceedings against the World Bank and the IMF whom they blame for Africa's woes... Amidst the pleas and the testimonies, life goes on in the courtyard. Chaka does not seem to be concerned by this novel Africa's desire to fight for its rights... Written by
During the inset "Death in Timbuktu" "western," just before the first gunshot, a car can be seen moving between two buildings in the background. This, however, could be interpreted as intentional by the director, who was parodying non-Western interpretations of a "western" (other countries who partake in a love of westerns are Thailand and Cambodia). The child in this scene is also wearing a Nike shirt. The effect is to present the sort of low-budget, pulp film one might see in a television broadcast in Mali, while supplying a metaphor to the actual movie's plot. See more »
Bamako is a deeply personal docudrama that illuminates the destitute conditions of African people living in Mali. The story revolves around a village mock trial where African citizens are privileged to voice their political frustrations against a jury of bipartisan judges. Many of these frustrations deal with major social epidemics that Mali suffocates from, including: healthcare, education, poverty, national debt, privatization and disease. In this sense, the story is simple in its structure, yet the issues discussed by the citizens are vastly complex.
It was rewarding to hear the testimonies of the citizens transcend the illiterate stereotype of Africans. Though the majority of them use powerful rhetoric to emphasize and provide solutions to the problems their country faces, there were two testimonies in particular that really stood out as powerful demonstrations of their impoverishment. The man who is silent and the man who sings; both convey a unique message that represents the same underlying themesocial plagues.
The man who gives a silent testimony is a type of the many who suffer with neglected education. His weary eyes, depressed lips and resonating silence speak louder than any eloquent words could do; as if his body language cries, "I am the consequence of social malnourishment. Please give me the opportunity to be nourished like others." The man who sings in an unknown tongue provides commentary on a sort of meta-political-level. Let me explain what I mean by this.
The entire film is very verbose; it is not aesthetically pleasing for the eye as it is more so just a lot of spoken words for the ear. It requires a lot of mental exertion and contemporary socio-economic knowledge to really understand what these people are talking about. With all of this heavy, didactic conversation and exchange of intonated words, the issues talked about would seem completely arbitrary to someone who was not educated. In fact, the conversation would seem alienlike a jumbling mess of chaotic noises and sounds. The man who sings his testimony also appears alien to those who listen. He is merely personifying the chaos of political jargon he hears through an artistic expression of music. He, too, is plagued by a lack of education; his song enters his listener's hearts on a level that is both metaphysical and political.
Overall, the citizens of Mali hide no pretense from where their problems arise, but link much of their pauperization to corporate corruption in the West. Western ideals and social reforms that are inevitably forced upon their economy make Malians rightfully jaded towards the World Bank, WTO, G8 and other Western influences. The richer countries around the world feed like parasites upon the African economy, pushing them deep into debt, refusing to give financial aid until they conform to the Western ideal of privatization, and ultimately drowning them in a sea of tyranny.
I think the filmmakers choose to shoot this film like a documentary because it adds an objective lens to the reality of what these people actually suffer from. These issues are not fabricated to glamorize some type of Hollywood agenda, but are real-life situations involving real-life people, and they deserve the respect to be listened to in a real court of law. Sadly, however, they are not privileged with such a luxury. With filmmakers who care about their situation, they are able to fabricate the form of a courthouse, yet the content that is exchanged inside is painfully true.
The film intercuts several narrative sketches throughout the mock trial, giving examples of the types of lives the Malians live. One story focuses on the tension created between a father's temptation to leave his wife and child in order to pursue financial stability elsewhere, while another focuses on the overall idle state of the citizens who hopelessly sit around listening to politics through a speaker. The sense of despair in both stories comes in direct consequence of Africa's relationship to the corrupting West. The reason why Africa hurts as much as she does is because of the neglect and maltreatment that larger, dominating countries have subjected her to.
One particular scene that demonstrates Africa's ill-feelings towards the West is shown through the film, Death at Timbuktu. The film shows cowboys come into a foreign town and essentially rape, murder and pillage the people of their goods. Why?because they have the power to do so. This film seemed to suggest the brutality of Western Capitalism. How large, domineering and privatized corporations come into small, submissive and frail countries like Africa and essentially do exactly what the cowboys in the film didexploit and corrupt.
Both filmsBamako and the film inside Bamako, Death at Timbuktuseem to have a slight sense of propaganda behind them in order to awaken the injustices done to Africans, and call for equal treatment, opportunity and overall justice.
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