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The Ethiopian intellectual Anberber returns to his native country during the repressive totalitarian regime of Haile Mariam Mengistu and the recognition of his own displacement and powerlessness at the dissolution of his people's humanity and social values. After several years spent studying medicine in Germany, he finds the country of his youth replaced by turmoil. His dream of using his craft to improve the health of Ethiopians is squashed by a military junta that uses scientists for its own political ends. Seeking the comfort of his countryside home, Anberber finds no refuge from violence. The solace that the memories of his youth provide is quickly replaced by the competing forces of military and rebelling factions. Anberber needs to decide whether he wants to bear the strain or piece together a life from the fragments that lie around him. Written by
Venice Film Festival
The film takes one on a whirlwind journey of what happened not just in Ethiopia but the generation of that age. It is a sharp commentary on communism's excess. After all this was the era during which Italy's Red Brigade and Germany's Baader-Meinhof were coming into their own terrorizing their home communities. A film that tries to do justice to such a deeply felt wound in the Ethiopian and world psyche can be forgiven a few excesses, chief among which is its length.
The film is artistically well thought out, and one can tell Gerima had plenty of time during those 14 years to develop his ideas and refine them. It does not try to be clever except when it combines the protagonists problems with racial problems then existent in Germany. And by the way, there was an Ethiopian man that was thrown off a balcony around that time. The only difference is that in real life the man did not survive the fall.
This film is not for shrinking violets or those in denial. And those whose revisionism allows them the myopia of seeing those times in a golden light will find the stark reality of those violent times too accessible to brush away or ignore.
In all it is a portrait of a place and point in time, of people, a country and ideals that are no longer with us.
Bravo to Gerima and all who help present this palpable, smoothly told(overall) story of a neglected and wasted time.
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