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Echoes From a Somber Empire (1990)

Echos aus einem düsteren Reich (original title)
Documentary examining Bokassa's rule in the Central African Republic using the testimony of witnesses and visits to key sites.



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Credited cast:
Michael Goldsmith ... Himself
... Himself
Augustine Assemat ... Herself
David Dacko ... Himself
Francis Szpiner ... Himself
François Gibault ... Himself
Marie-Reine Hassen ... Herself
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
... Himself (archive footage)


Documentary examining Bokassa's rule in the Central African Republic using the testimony of witnesses and visits to key sites.

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Release Date:

28 November 1990 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Echoes From a Somber Empire  »

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Featured in Filmstunde: Filmstunde 2 (1992) See more »


Piano Trio No. 2 in E flat major, Op. 100, D.929 - II. Andante con moto
Composed by Franz Schubert
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User Reviews

A fascinating game of tug-of-war with everything you hold dear: Can you win?
4 December 2011 | by See all my reviews

Echos Aus Einem Düsteren Reich.( In English that's)- Echoes From A Sombre Empire

How do people make documentaries like this? it astounds me. First things first, this is beautiful and greatly sad. This documentary, however, only serves as a light dressing to try and anoint a wound long and deep and still bleeding: It cannot heal the scars left behind by the tyranny of what happened in the Central African Republic, but it serves as many things, mainly to aid the goodwill of mankind, to remind the viewer that you must never sympathise with perpetrators of terror in any disguise, shape or form. Jean-Bédel Bokassa was a product of the civilised world which created him, and they had to pay for his actions at great cost to the world. This documentary follows one man, Goldsmith, who was greatly affected by Bokassa, but remained true to his investigative, journalist instincts that put him into a torture chamber for many years, and although being a gentle man, he is a torchbearer for the truth, and he really got to me above all else. He uncovers the two sides of Bokassa, the human and the Cannibal Dictator, through interviewing the people who knew him well before being sentenced to death. Herzog helps him and the viewer on his quest for knowledge of the unknown and closure for what happened in Goldsmith's and the world's heavy past. In conclusion, this is by far the best source you are going to get on an intense period of history that says more to us about who we are than anything else, because it forces us to recognise that which was documented here as the truth, and we are put to the test as to whether we are strong enough to bear witness to the sadness created in the name of our pathetic and lonely civilisation, the cold heart of capitalism is something we must understand. Sometimes the truth does not set you free, sometimes it only reinforces what is already concrete, and that which is concrete cannot be anything more, and the failure of the other reviewer's perceptions is they tried to look for something beyond what is a perfect representation of the truth, they hold certain lies about what a film is very dear to them, but they fell short of the truth and are unsatisfied as a result. This is not a film for action junkies. Another reviewer on this website was talking about this docu having a lack of a 'Hook', which is sad because sometimes it is better to totally except what anguish does, and use your knowledge and your reflections on the sadness that happens to better your own lives so that you don't end up creating this confusing, endless void of ideas where the truth is told to wait while you look for the truth that suits you, but inevitably is created as a lie. Don't deny the Imperfectable, enjoy the freedom you have to watch this film and go on the journey this film will give you if you are warm-hearted.

***** If you liked this film... To be compared with it : "Idi Amin Dada: Autoportrait" a documentary by another German film maker Barbet Schroeder who got special permission from crack-pot philosopher, self-proclaimed-economist and sinister dictator idi amin to film him. A seriously good film and comparison piece to Herzog's *****

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