Journey of the Hyena (1973) Poster

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An Amazing Blend of Cultures
gavin69422 September 2016
Mory, a cowherd, and Anta, a university student, try to make money in order to go to Paris and leave their boring past behind.

This film looks great and is just very interesting from the whole clash of cultures perspective. You have some African tradition here, and mixed in with that you have some Muslim practices. I am no expert, but I suspect Islam in Senegal is much different than in the Middle East. It's an interesting blend. And then, of course, you have the modern world of France, which is different from either of those cultures.

What may strike viewers the most, especially because it happens so early in the film (and is repeated later), is the slaughter of the cattle. Whether the methods shown are humane or not, I have no idea. But they look brutal, and to the modern world it may be a shock to see something that has become so far removed from our everyday life. Now, food is food, and we rarely see that once upon a time it was a living thing.
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a young person's movie, scattered but affecting, funny and a strong ending
Quinoa198414 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
One of the major aspects of the filmmaking I noticed with Touki Bouki was the music; Mambety uses the same "Paris, Paris, Paris" song several times, and early on I thought it was a wonderful sort of jingle - maybe like "Buongiorno" in Before the Revolution, something bouncy that gives the young characters their own theme - but I think the longer it went on I realized that the director had it almost as something else in mind. It's song use as way of like a chant one has in a head or almost like a prayer; the 'Paris' is a fantasy of Paris from the song, as in what one might hear from the French New Wave style of films (which I'm sure in some way or another, if only in the documentary realism those films sometimes had as a bedrock from the more stylish things that came from it), as their own reflections of the culture.

There comes a point though where the use of the song, especially in the last section, becomes like a desperate plea, like, 'Oh, please, Paris-Paris-Paris, let this be so." There is other music in the film too - the last piece used especially is effective and adds to the melancholy feeling that Mambety aims to get, and he certainly achieves it - but this is like the unofficial anthem of the film, or at least for these two characters Mory and Anta, who meet as two young people from a small sea-side town in Senegal with practically no prospects and decide to leave for Paris, France, for better fortunes. They have little schemes to steal in order to get enough money to escape, such as a card game that doesn't go as planned (Mory barely escapes alive after not paying a guy ten grand in Senegalese money), they steal a suitcase that may not have what they're looking for (to put it mildly; another guy who opens it up and finds its contents runs away, hilariously, screaming); and, finally, a scheme to steal some things/clothes from some big shot in a seaside villa.

There's a pulse to the film that is full of the unexpected, and Mambety here is after something that can put you on your toes as a viewer. Scorsese on the Criterion DVD says of the film, "the film is exploding from shot to shot". Not all of the shots exactly are that way, but I can get behind the comparison; the movie opens in such a way that is meant to grab you completely, as we see a cow being slaughtered, like up-close and with the blood leaving no other sign that it's anything else (later there's another animal shown slaughtered). I wasn't sure if this was meant as some poetic or symbolic gesture - are we to compare these characters, or any of the other people, to the cows being killed for meat and their skins - or if it was simply there so that we can get in the mind-frame of, 'This place is serious business, and it's REAL'.

And, naturally, I was taken in by the first twenty minutes because there isn't a plot that gets established right away; we're here to see the atmosphere of the place, and it sets up the tone well in one way: this is going to be episodic, hanging by a thread, and the thread itself has a lot of in-your-face, surreal touches. Take the one woman who tends to cackle loudly at someone as if they are, uh, fallen off of the cliff, and then later on in the film when the characters return(ish) to that part of the village in fancy clothes in the back of a car being driven by the guy who thinks they are supposed to be driven via the guy they ripped off, the woman does a dance and sings about "the Prince" who has come, and others in the village dance with them.

This is an unusual rhythm with the things that just *happen* here - at another point early on, Mambety shows two women who get into a scrap over buckets of water, and when a guy intervenes to stop them, it causes more chaos, though it's all fun for the kids watching and laughing - but it is consistent, and I applaud Mambety for aiming for a visual, emotional cinema above all else. This becomes most clear near the end, when, and here's when we get into spoilers (just know I recommend the film for those who can accept and even look for outside-the-box films from places you don't expect like Senegal), Mory decides right at the entrance to the ship that'll take then to France he has to leave. Why does he go back into the city? All for his motorcycle? Did he intend to go back to the ship and, when he discovers what's happened (hint: it involves a.... white Caveman guy, yeah, that's midway through the movie he first appears, and it's easily the strangest part of all of this)? Whatever the case, as the director and cameraman follow Mory running so fast away from the ship to the city, it gives an exhilarating feeling while at the same time leads to a sadder, more contemplative kind of state of being, at least for me, that I didn't expect Touki Bouki to give to us, which was good.

This wasn't going to quite end up how these characters though it would, but at the same time it's not done in something bloody or murderous exactly for them. It's more about... well, this was the dream, the dream of "Paris, Paris, Paris".
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Unique landmark African film
Red-Barracuda6 February 2017
Two young people attempt to escape the poverty of their native Senegal and move to Paris. They raise some funds by committing petty crimes.

Touki Bouki is a very distinctive film that's for sure. The African continent hasn't been renowned for producing a great deal of important movies but this one certainly qualifies as such. It has a pretty basic story-line but it's not a plot-driven affair at all really. In actual fact it is quite experimental in approach much of the time and seems to have been influenced by the European New Wave films quite a bit. But what gives it its edge is that within that it is very specifically Senegalese. It's not often we see much from this part of the world represented in cinema, especially not from over forty years ago and certainly rarely from actual Senegalese film-makers. It's this Senegalese colour and authenticity, combined with the bold experimental cinematic presentation that makes this one very much stand out. In truth, I don't think I fully appreciated all its nuances on first viewing and would certainly like to return to it sometime in the future. Be warned though, it does contain some pretty brutal scenes of animal slaughter which make for difficult viewing. All-in-all though, this unusual film has a great deal of character and its strong sense of location makes for fascinating viewing.
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Images of African air
chaos-rampant22 January 2015
An African film here about youth, about the thirst to escape from a place that parches it and the bike ride through dirt roads out to sea where a ship sails for Europe. But I want to avoid merely a museum visit or an aesthetic token from a faraway place, I want the heart that pounds behind appearances and gives rise to their breeze of color. What heart here?

First are the things he says about the home that is left behind. Symbolic cows being led to slaughter and cut to the young lead riding his motorbike with cow horns on the wheel. A stolen chest, supposedly full of money to pay for a DeGaulle statue but it contains a corpse.

These are the things the filmmaker knows exactly what he wants to say about. They're also the least interesting to watch for me. The young lead being wrestled by leftist students is intercut with cows being wrestled before the slaughter. The dear bike stolen by a savage white man and left broken while he's extracted with merely a broken leg. Not without nuance, but some of it is as didactic as we make fun of Hollywood.

More tantalizing is the journey through these to outrun them, even more so once you realize this is the same journey the filmmaker himself made from that same port. A yearning for freedom, but the desired freedom is a life of material comforts in Europe, what every boy his age would dream about, cafés and girls. Meanwhile the girl meekly tugs along behind her childish man. There's a sense that she quietly yearns for more; but she also feels beautiful in the (stolen) pink suit and red hat, as any girl would. I like films where youth is embraced with its dreams and folly, this is one.

But also a deeper heart, things which the filmmaker doesn't know how to express clearly but vaguely feels stirring. There are a few of these where the surface of the film is rippled by some hidden vortix that seems to rage in the deep, like when the girl thinks he has drowned. If the journey is Godard, this is Pasolini. This might be part of what some reviews note as sloppy technique. True. This is a man still trying to fathom how images can surround a feel.

So this is it here, a journey where as these two lovers flee, they get caught up in situations that tear from them images of who they are and what their surrounding world is like, images the air takes along which become the film. In the end one self is left behind, the one who has not outrun this world.
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This film is intended as a warning to established continents . . .
pixrox130 November 2021
Warning: Spoilers
. . . that hordes of malingering miscreants from Earth's nether regions are threatening to spill over into settled territories, bringing habitual criminal behavior, no regard for the basic principles of civilization, total bedlam and wall-to-wall mayhem with them. No one would entitle such a documentary as JOURNEY OF THE HYENA if they had the least bit of sympathy for such dangerous insurgents. But by picturing these motorcycle-based anarchists as irredeemable scofflaws akin to the baseball bat-wielding rollerboys of WARRIORS--the 1979 action flick, HYENA gives a heads up shot across the bow to such vulnerable regions as Europe about their impending doom.
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Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambéty makes a conscious choice of showing Senegal in a good light !!!!
FilmCriticLalitRao8 June 2015
It is indeed hard to believe that over the years, the magic of Europe as a golden land of opportunities has not faded. It is also unfortunate that Europe continues to charm countless innocent, impoverished men and women from Asia, Africa and Latin America to risk their lives in order to reach European soil with the sole objective of making a lot of money. Some of these daredevils can be found in the Senegalese film 'Touki Bouki' directed by maverick Djibril Diop Mambéty. He has ensured that Senegal is not shown in any kind of bad light as hunger and scenes of poverty which have become regular features of other African films about Africa have been deliberately avoided. It is a mystery how Touki Bouki's comical situations have been termed as surreal. They are as close as possible to daily lives which prove out to be a great test for everybody. Watching the comic scenes with utmost attention, one realizes how some borders are closely guarded so that Paris continues to be far for many impoverished African youngsters. Lastly, some scenes of cruelty towards animals might drive some viewers to start hating this film. This is the only major imperfection which one can detect in this film.
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A 3rd World Easy Rider
iquine15 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
(Flash Review)

All good films should open with an 'authentic' cow slaughter. Kidding but this film did it. It was the main character's job but I think the 2-3 animals slaughtered during the film were for real but then actually used for people to consume as they normally would. Aside from those scenes, the film is about a university student who is tired with his life and wants to move to Paris. So he tries to earn a little money or steal it or steal things to help him get to Paris all while riding a motorcycle with a cow skull on it. There's the Easy Rider connection. Ha. The film is very poorly paced with a loose and abstract story without any satisfying payoff. There was an attempt at a metaphor between the motorcycle and cows but it was lost on me.
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the mystery and misery of fate
framptonhollis28 December 2017
The thick border separating realism from surrealism is thinned down evermore in each scene of this gem of a drama. Anarchic, exhilerating, and playful, Touki Bouki takes its viewers on a unique and memorable journey despite the occasional boring or overlong sequence having the power to, every now and then, bring the movie's high quality down a few notches. However, boredom is really subjective, and I still remained at least somewhat engaged in the film's characters, ideas, story, cinematography, and overall artistry even when the scene I was watching felt dragged out.

The film is unlike most others, both style and story wise. Not too much really happens in the film, and the conclusion is somber, off putting, and strange in a way that recalls almost nothing else's I have ever seen. It mixes many different feelings and genres and textures and so on and so forth, the main characters are both lovers, but they never have a romantic scene together, they just sort of hang out and interact in a very real and enjoyable way. The film can be interpreted as a dark tragedy, but comedy lurks in almost every corner, and even reaches its high point during what may be the most intense scene in the film! There are moments involving interesting cultural traditions that allow non-Africans like myself to get a unique glimpse into this foreign society, joyous scenes of song and dance, anarchic avant gardism, ingredients of a prettily poetic pop, humor that hangs both high and low brow, surrealistic twists, mindbending editing decisions, many sequences directly inspired by French New Wave Cinema (Jean-Luc Godard in particular), and plenty more! And the film is barely even ninety minutes long, the plot is ridiculously simple, and the scale is mostly minuscule.
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Powerful images
valadas11 May 2020
The first important thing to say is that I hope that no animals are ill treated or killed in the course of filming which is unacceptable and strictly forbidden. The images are powerful indeed in terms of scenes, surroundings and people's faces, bodies, expressions and behaviours. The action takes place in Senegal and the story is simple and well shown. A cow herd and a university student are longing to leave Senegal and emigrate to Paris. They try to succed in that by doing a lot of things including stealing money from other people to pay for a ship travel to France. Through it we see and are aware of the life and usages of the Sebegalese lower social class. All well filmed, directed and acted. And last but not least we listen on the background part of a Parisian song by the beautiful voice of Josephine Baker.
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Heartbreaking richly coloured phantasm
I went to the London Film Festival in October 2008 to watch a film from the past, a "Treasure from the Archive". However whilst Touki Bouki was made over 35 years ago it still remains incredibly relevant. Young Africans still drown trying to cross the Straits of Gibraltar to Europe every day. That's what this film is about, the desperation of ordinary Africans (specifically from a Senegalese perspective) yearning to find prosperity and stability. It's one of those films I would class as a "scream of despair". Even if there are some very funny scenes, these scenes are like the scenes of humour that Ford would inject into his Westerns to mollify audience gloom. It would not surprise me if that were a direct influence, but if he wasn't cine-literate, then Djibril must rank as the most precocious director of all time.

The bare bones of the plot of the film concerns Mory, who is a sometime cattle herder, and Anta his girlfriend who is a university student. This especially winsome couple want desperately to escape to Europe. Mory is the object of ridicule in his community, intelligent, but useless and uppity, whilst Anta's university is no real safe-haven of learning, what with it being full of decadent revolutionaries (not an oxymoron). Both yearn to live in France.

As close to a true narrative as we get is that they go to a wrestling match and attempt to steal the stadium's cash box. There are two boxes, a yellow one and a blue one, they can't take both and aren't sure which one holds the loot. They take the blue one and when they get to their deserted, ruined, ex-colonial bunker hideout realise that it is filled with Voodoo craziness, runes and skulls and such. This for me is high Surrealism.

Plan B is to steal clothes, money, and a car off a rich idler who lives in a seaside villa surrounded by catamites. Plan B is successful, exeunt Mory and Anta pursued by the lo (sic).

Dressed as highfalutin dandies they revisit Mory's community driving in a stars-and-stripes festooned car where they are treated as a Lord and his Lady. Whether this is actual plotting or wish-fulfilment dreaming is left up to the viewer to decide.

After Fellinian parades of the mind the story returns to earth with a bump as Mory and Anta reach a port and try to escape to France.

One thing that stands out in the film is the anti-French criticism. The French bourgeois who make their living in Senegal are shown as treating Senegalese as some sort of bonobo-child chimeras. Also there is the aforementioned wrestling match, which is a "charity" event organised to raise money to build a statue of General de Gaulle (the height of absurdism?). This is also internally-driven criticism as the organisers are chiefs of a Senegalese tribe.

The film is ambivalent about life in Senegal, whilst Mory and Anta yearn to leave, Mambéty also shows us beautiful scenes of daily life in Senegal, and the humour of the populace. One part for me stands out, a parade of Senegalese carrying water on their heads in semi-transparent plastic buckets, the sunlight shining through the buckets transforms them into preternatural magic lanterns, the framing is exquisite, the camerashot is filled with green and blue corruscation. The point is that this guy Mambéty is not some sort of amateur who is esteemed out of political correctness, this guy is a force of nature, a director whose capability of expression is really begging to be called primus inter pares when compared to the likes of Parajanov and Bunuel.

One strong warning is that this movie contains scenes of cattle being slaughtered both in abbatoirs and outside of them, right at the start of the film. Really gruesome in the extreme, and far more graphic for example than the familiar scene of an ox being slaughtered in Apocalypse Now. The point of it is metaphorical, young African men are treated as no less than cattle to be slaughtered, fodder for the consumer games of power structures, ultimately commoditised.
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Not good
hemisphere65-121 March 2021
Warning: Spoilers
A loser and his girlfriend want to travel abroad, so they eventually steal some magical clothing that allows passports to appear and enough money to get from West Africa to Europe. Avant garbage, overrated, pseudo-intellectual nonsense. The main characters are low-life thieves, but these are our heroes. No guy running a con game allows anyone to place a bet without putting the cash up, anywhere on the globe! Disappointing film.
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Brilliant illustration of an average story
Mort-313 April 2003
First, I didn't like the movie because I felt I wasn't able to enjoy it really. It made the impression of a TV documentary on how livestock is mistreated in Western Africa.

Then, by quite confusingly repeating a scene scored by somewhat mystical pop music, the film turned to the other extreme and made me consider it over-sybolistic.

Then, finally, the actual story began, and I could figure out various things. I could separate dream from reality, although this was not so easy, and I thought the film was too clichéd at some moments (e. g. the fat gay man, who was charming but a little camp).

Now that the film is over and I thought back to it I believe it is not at all a bad movie. Many discontinuities and an unusual narrative style are something we should welcome. Regarding the images and colours it is a wonderful piece of work. The film seems like brilliant illustration of an average story.
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forces of modernity collide head on with the weight of African tradition
trpuk196811 August 2011
I recently showed this film to a group of students so what follows is a condensed version of the worksheet I gave them. The questions I give hopefully can assist others in making meaning from the film.

Touki Bouki can best be made sense of in the following way: It operates through allusion and symbolism. Through the story of two young lovers, Mory and Fanta, clashing with the older generation, yearning to leave for Paris, Mambety puts on screen his vision of a country where the weight of thousands of years of tradition collides head on with the modernity of a newly emergent Senegal. implied or indirect reference hinting at something

Symbol...something that stands for something else...something concrete that represents or suggests another thing that cannot in itself be represented or visualised...for example a lion symbolises courage

Think about what you have seen (and heard!) in the film, paying special attention to:

Mory's motorbike – what is it decorated with? What do those objects remind you of? Fanta ties it to a tree, in the midst of a herd of there a connection to the cows?

The long scene in the first half of the film, when there are lots of shots of the sea, then we see Mory and Fanta together on the cliffs talking about leaving for France

The transformation of the Aunt from an unsympathetic character in the first half of the film to a praise singer in the second.

Charlie's car which Mory and Fanta ride off in after robbing him is a Citroen painted in the flag of which country? How is it positioned in relation to the motorbike and the welcomers?

1. How do you think the following things are alluded to in the film?

The act of lovemaking The city of Paris The cycles of life – birth, death, birth

2. How do you think the following things are symbolised in the film?

African tradition African modernity – this film is made soon after Senegal gained independence The ties which hold us, such as family, friends, our familiar environment Colonial power The primitive

Other points to consider...

Mambety inserts documentary footage from actual events, such as the women at the well, a wrestling competition, street children and a Presidential motorcade, into a fiction film. Do these scenes have anything to do with the story? What effect do they have on you, the viewer? What's your response to them? Why might they be in the film?

Certain images and sounds are repeated in the film, such as the ocean, the crows, the cries of the taxi driver who runs away from the box then repeated by the caveman. What effect does this have? Does it 'organize' the film in any way?

Answers... Mory's motorbike symbolizes Africa, in the scene after they ve robbed Charlie, it s positioned in such a way against the Citroen that the two seem oppositional. The Citroen is a French car decorated with the US flag stars and stripes so representing both French colonialism and US imperialism. The sea is a symbol for lovemaking. The cycles of nature are implied in the scenes of cattle slaughter and goat being sacrificed. Fanta ties the motorbike up as if shes trying to hold at bay the forces of modernity, of change. is the film trying to reconcile two opposing aspects, yearning for the past and tradition while simultaneously embracing modernity, the new? Whose the weird, white looking caveman up in the tree? Its as if Mambety shoves our images of 'primitive' Africans back in faces, also in the dream sequence when Mory and Fanta sit in the car, dressed in 1930s clothes smoking, being sung praises by Aminata Fal is a parody of successful Europeans. There's so much I d love to write about this film...Paris is reduced to a notion, an idea, a fantasy, brought to life through a clichéd song by Josephine Baker. On another level I read Touki Bouki as being about how Europe positions Africa and Africa positions Europe as exotic other. I m running out of space here, loads I could write about this film, hope this is useful, ENJOY!
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Colorful nonsense
xWRL28 May 2014
There's a lot going on in this movie--including even a plot. But it's hard to make any sense of it.

You have to give the filmmaker and actors the benefit of the doubt. It's so excellently shot technically and everyone seems to be having such fun, it very likely is the exact movie that the cast and crew intended to make. But the overall impression is of a self-indulgent farce in which we the viewers are not in on the joke.

Even taken as a superficial jumble of beautiful, technically perfect images--and that's pretty much what I was able to take away from this movie--the film is a letdown because it could have been so much more fresh, satirical, and fun than it is.
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CommieTT26 November 2001
I wanted to see this movie because I read about it on a list of political films that were praised in a local free newspaper (The Washington Free Press).

The movie, filmed in the west African country of Senegal, does contrast the great divide between the haves and the have-nots; graphically so.

However, the film style seems to be along the lines of the French new wave artist Jean-Luc Godard. I've read Godard is a "genius" when it comes to film -- but I think it depends on your perspective. I've enjoyed his films "Week End" and "Masculine-Feminine" but when it came to "Pierrot le fou," I just had to shrug. That's kind of how I felt about "Touki Bouki."

If you are interested in seeing a very in-your-face story about two young lovers trying to find the money to leave Senegal for France, this is the film. Though be forewarned, it doesn't always make much sense!

My rating: 5
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Totally empty
bartolomeudebensafrim8 January 2021
African visual beauty, just a bit of it's culture (it's so avantgarde sometimes it's not even senegalese), and nothing more. No script, no story to tell, nothing.
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a wonderfully wild ride
mcfloodhorse21 March 2008
Disorienting and at times even a bit schizophrenic, this is an extraordinarily vibrant, pulsating, and eccentric film. Comparisons to the anarchic, jumpy, free-associative style of the French New Wavers are not far off, but there's something much more erotic and carnal in the film's playfulness.

The story of self-assured college beauty Anta and her fella - Mory the motorcycle-riding herdsman - starts in Dakar and wistfully wanders toward Paris, the seemingly unattainable city of their dreams. Their get-rich-quick schemes and the breezy, colorful manner in which they unfold are funny and inspired.

Along the way, there are sequences of both utter hilarity and genuine depth, although the film does sometimes seem unsure of its many potentially-symbolic representations. But the stylistic narrative and experimental technical aspects are so full of ideas that talk of the film's minor weaknesses seems trivial.

The soundtrack is outstanding, full of syncopation and polyrhythms pacing the film and giving a rich texture to the images. And there's constant movement, until the film's denouement where character, story, camera and concept fuse together in common paralysis, where all seems frozen in reflection.
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fallingtrees29 March 2013
It may be an old film, but I had to switch off after the first 30 minutes. There seemed to be horrific scenes of animal slaughter every so often for no real reason. It was horrible.

No explanation, no real plot flow, very confusing, strange camera angles, repeated scenes, and too much pretentious symbolism. There were some parts of it that had real promise and made me giggle, but after a while I just gave up. Something was lacking. Something was lost in translation.

So again a warning - scenes of barbaric animal slaughter. We're talking PETA video style images OK, stuff you should be OK with as a meat eater, but usually people are not.
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Not for everybody
chewbaccuh23 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
First of all, I want to make it clear that I am a foreign film lover. If you aren't, don't bother with this film because you will hate it.

This film is interesting because it shows the life of the poor and underclass in Africa, and gives a brief glimpse into the rich when the lead character of the movie visits a gay man.

There are subtle references...some insulting...on the various types of people who come and go in the film. The lazy government employee (the postman), the corrupt government employee (the policemen are show twice in the film of either taking bribes or were implicated in it), the corrupt government leaders (the title character even imagines himself one, riding in a parade in front of the poor), the rich whites (who make racist remarks on the boat about the Africans while showing a pet dog better off than most people in the country), and student rebels (who tie up the character on a truck and are no better than the corrupt government officials), a gambler, and wrestlers.

But the narrative is confusing, as if those who made it were in first year of film school and just got their camera. What does it mean about the cattle being slaughtered? Are Africans being led to the slaughter? In the end why does the lead character run away from the boat that was to take him to Paris, where he dreams throughout the film of going? What is the near white primitive caveman doing riding his motorbike? What happened to the skeleton in the trunk they had stolen (they thought they were stealing money) Did it mean something else?? Who knows? There is no explaining of it by the director.

The film does offer the beautiful colors and landscapes of Africa and you can almost smell the sweat and odors of the places visited.
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