Moolaadé (2004) Poster


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Few will leave the theater unmoved
Howard Schumann28 March 2005
Moolaadé, a powerful and uncompromising film by 81-year old Senegalese director Ousmane Sembene, depicts the clash between entrenched cultural and religious tradition and modern secular society over the issue of female genital mutilation (FGM) in a West African village. Practiced mainly on girls between the ages of four and eight, FGM refers to the removal of part, or all, of the female genitalia as a means of reducing a woman's desire for sex and the chances that they will have sex outside of marriage. According to Amnesty International, an estimated 135 million women have undergone genital mutilation, and two million a year are at risk - approximately 6,000 per day. A procedure that has been performed for over 2000 years, it is normally done without the care of medically trained people and may lead to death, serious infection, HIV, depression, or gynecological complications.

In the film, six girls refuse to take part in the "purification" ritual. Two run away to an uncertain fate and the remaining four are sheltered by Colle Gallo Ardo Sy (Fatoumata Coulibaly), a woman who is known to have mystical powers and has given the four girls the "moolaade", the spell of protection. She ties a rope across the entrance of her home and all are forbidden to cross it until she releases the spell by uttering the correct words. Colle refused to have her daughter Amasatou (Salimata Traore) submit to the "cutting" seven years earlier and Amasatou is called a "bilakoro", a woman who is unclean and her chances for marriage are said to be slim. She is, however, planning on marrying the son of the tribal chief, Ibrahima (Moussa Theophile Sowie), a well off Westernized African who is due to return from Paris.

Colle's moolaadé stirs the anger of the Salidana, a group of women dressed in red gowns who perform the mutilation. She is also forced to stand up to the intimidation of her husband and his brother and the male elders in the village who see her as a threat to their values. As a gesture of control, the men confiscate the women's radios, their main source of news of outside life. Rigidly defending their traditions and what they questionably see as a practice sanctioned by Islam, they also turn against an itinerant merchant they call Mercenaire (Dominique Zeida) who comes to the aid of Colle in a shocking scene of public flogging. As the issue becomes crystallized, many women rally to Colle's support whose courage in the face of determined opposition is of heroic proportions.

While Moolaadé is political, it is not simply a polemic against injustice. The film is multi-layered and the characters are complex individuals who are much more than symbols of right and wrong. Shot in a profusion of brilliant colors, Moolaadé opens the door to a little known culture and, in the process, brings a brutal practice to the world's attention. According to Nahld Toubia, MD, a physician from Sudan, "It is only a matter of time before all forms of female circumcision in children will be made illegal in Western countries and, eventually, in Africa." Moolaadé shows us the way and few will leave the theater unmoved.
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Feminism & modernity in Burkino Faso
rsillima28 October 2004
Six girls from a rural village in Burkina Faso escape from a 'purification' ceremony, the female circumcision ritual that is still practiced in 34 of the 58 nations in the African Union. Two head for the city. The other four know of a woman in the village who, some years earlier, had prevented her own daughter from being cut. They run to her home, where she is the second of three wives of a man whose brother is a figure in the town's power structure. To protect them, she pronounces a moolaadé, an unbreakable spell of sanctuary that can only be dissolved by her word, and which is marked simply by stretching some colored strands of yarn across the enclave's doorway.

This is the narrative set up of Ousmane Sembene's latest film, Moolaadé, which had its Philadelphia debut in a packed (literally sitting in the aisles) auditorium at the International House cinema last week. How will the townspeople react to this open rebellion against female genital mutilation? How will the men who govern the town respond? What about the women who actually perform these ceremonies, presented in the film virtually as a coven of witches dressed entirely in red? And, especially, what about the town's other women? Will Collé Gallo Ardo Sy recant the mooladé? Will the village ever again be the same?

All these questions are literally put on the table in the first ten minutes of this remarkable motion picture, beautifully filmed & amazingly acted, full of agitprop theatrics & yet as tightly & deeply scripted – I mean this literally – as any Shakespearean tragedy. That's a combination that is uniquely the signature of Africa's master film maker, Ousmane Sembene.

Had Sembene not been drafted into the French army in his native Senegal at the age of 15 in 1939, he might not have joined the Free French forces fighting the Nazis in '42 & thus might not have ended up after the war in France, working on the docks in Marseilles, where he wrote and published his first novel, Le Docker noir in 1956. It was not usual in the 1950s that a man of his class background in Senegal – not a member of any tribal elite – even learned to read, let alone became a critically & financially successful intellectual on a world scale. Which must be why Sembene made a conscious decision to study film at the All Russia State Institute for Cinematography founded by Eisenstein & at Gorki Studios in Moscow. In 1966, three years after returning to Senegal, the then-43-year-old Sembene released La Noire de . . ., the first feature-length motion picture produced in Sub-Saharan Africa. His films, which can stand up alongside the best of Bergman, Kurosawa or Godard, are intended for audiences who will see them sitting on dirt floors in African villages.

Feminist themes are common in Sembene's work. Ceddo, my favorite of the three earlier pictures of Sembene's that I've seen, looks at Islamic imperialism in Sub-Saharan Africa precisely in terms of what it meant for the role of women in the tribes. Colonialism, contemporary issues of globalization, modernity & identity are all heightened when viewed through the lens of gender relations. Addressing one must mean addressing all & nobody is in a better position to do so than someone whose identity is both defined & constrained by her gender. On a continent where the ratio of resources to human beings would render an economic determinist suicidal, Sembene has come up with a particularly radical prescription – the path through globalization has to proceed through feminism first.

'The West is never my reference,' Sembene says in the Q&A period that follows the picture. He's explaining why it's not a problem that his work tends to be put into a third-world ghetto at European film festivals, even though it plays to packed houses, enthusiastic audiences & consistently wins prizes. Moolaadé, for example, won the Un Certain Regard award this year at Cannes & was relegated to the Planet Africa series at Turin.

Yet, in fact, Moolaadé is very much about the confrontation of rural Africa with the forces of globalization. The girls who flee their mutilation do so because they've seen the consequences – dead sisters, maimed women – up close & personal. The city – urbanization – is the refuge that two seek (and when they don't get there, the consequences are grave). The men in the village respond first by banning radios – one sees here an economy that built around bread and the access to batteries – which are piled outside of the local mosque (where they are left on to play music & some news throughout the entire film up to their climactic scene). When tensions & actions escalate & the men in the village coerce Collé's husband into whipping her in public, the person who steps in to stop the violence is the itinerant shopkeeper, Mercenaire, expelled from the military & living by cheating everybody with a smile in return for his shiny western goods – batteries most of all – who steps in to protect her. And when, finally, the women of the entire village, save for the mutilating witches, revolt against the men, it is the French-schooled son of the chief who lets it be known that he not only is willing to marry a woman who is bilakoro, uncircumcised, but will go beyond the ban against radios, even to the point of having television. What ultimately rescues the women is not just courage & solidarity – the victory comes at a heavy cost – but modernity itself. It is precisely the inability of the village to seal itself off from the influences of history, whether in the form of TV, radio, condoms or AIDS posters, that the women's victory will not be overturned.
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Another gem from an African icon
connorjm12 June 2005
One of legendary Senagalese director Ousmane Sembene's defining films. A fascinating study of the clash between pragmatic modern thinking and staunch religious traditionalism in Senegal. The film focuses on the controversial procedure of 'purification', in which young girls are forced to undergo genital mutilation to supposedly make them better, more faithful, wives in the future. When six young girls flee the process, four of them seek refuge with a well-known woman, Collé (Fatoumata Coulibaly), who is viewed with suspicion in the community for her stubborn refusal to adhere to all the societal 'norms'. Collé offers the girls protection (moolaadé), a spell which can only be broken if she herself utters the words which will end the moolaadé. Collé herself had refused to let her daughter be 'purified' and her actions prove to be inflammatory, causing the elders to become increasingly nervy about her failure to conform. As their control mechanism is slowly eroded they lash out and the community takes on alarming animalistic tendencies. Although the film ends in a rather idealistic fashion, Sembene's work is both moving and engaging. His stance on the core debate is clear but the views of the various community members are not so. In this way he is able to explore ideas of male hegemony while simultaneously studying the difficulties faced by the patriarch in striving towards accepted constructions of masculinity. Sembene understands the quirks of this society and his representations of these offer both light relief and food for thought. Ultimately the film swings back to the debate at its core - the battle between old and new. The modern approach is symbolised by the women's radios (and the knowledge acquired from them) and by the chief's French-educated son, who becomes the first to turn his back on the male elders. Religious traditionalism manifests itself through a ruthless and outdated male hegemony and it is clear that Sembene sees feminism as a crucial means by which modernisation can be achieved. His film provides an insight into an under-represented part of the world. It is a beautifully told story which offers a multi-layered yet concise analysis of ongoing issues which are relevant to us all.
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Very moving....
Ejramboray26 October 2004
This is a candid picture of West African village life with a tale centered on a most sensitive subject. A tale told with humour and an honesty that is lacking in so many mainstream films. Sometimes shocking and at other times hilarious, it describes the story of the women of one village and their struggle to overcome the petty male tyranny that imposed the tradition of female circumcision and the ostracism of any who refused it. The male elders set an almost Taliban like regime claiming that female genital mutilation is a requirement for women as stated in the Koran. This of course is wrong and one woman's bravery is enough to turn the tide and change things forever. Well worth a watch if you have the chance - don't be put of by the subject matter.....
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Outstanding, creative, original, deeply moving
joanklince1 November 2004
Moolaade is a present-day story of the impact that female genital mutilation has on one African village that lives very much according to tradition, yet has been touched by communication from the outside world. It's a simple, yet gripping, story, beautifully and creatively filmed. The people come across as thoroughly real people (in spite of the fact, or because, several of the actors are not professionals), yet the story is presented in such a way that each element, abstracted and beautifully caught by the camera, is isolated from whatever else is happening. It is filmed in an Africa language (and occasionally in French) so most viewers have to depend on subtitles, which appear at times to be abstracts of what has actually been said. Because the subtitles are short, they are readable and tend to reinforce the simplicity and directness of the story. It is a film with a message, educational but also a feast for the eyes.
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Great film from Ousmane Sembene
Unwanted_Birdtamer12 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I just saw this film tonight and was blown away. The story deals with four young girls who flee from their circumcision ceremony and claim sanctuary with Colle, a woman who refused to have her daughter undergo the ceremony a few years earlier. The story then follows Colle as she stands up against the tradition and authority that she feels is wrong. There is pressure from all sides for her to give these girls up, and the uncertainty of whether or not Colle will be able to stand up against everyone and keep these girls safe held me engrossed. Wonderful performances are given by all the actors, but especially by Fatoumata Coulibaly as Colle. I did feel the ending was a little too optimistic, I'd like to believe that's the way it could and would happen, but I just don't think things would be resolved so happily. Also the subtitles are in a very light color, and were very hard to read against the light-colored backgrounds. Other than that, it's a wonderful film and very worthwhile.
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Not just African....
movietrail3 June 2006
By total coincidence, I found myself at the Japan premiere of this intriguing film. I had no idea what it was going to be about, so it was fascinating to watch unfold. But, unlike most of the reviewers I have read so far, I did not think of it as an "African" film. I have seen the dynamics present in this film played out in many cultures and religions around the world, including the "West".

Meaningless tradition in the face of humanity is a universal theme and this film sends the message clearly home. Anybody who watches this film and smugly thanks their lucky stars that they weren't born in such a barbaric culture, has totally missed the point. They may even be part of the problem in their own culture, though unwittingly, as that is exactly how tradition works.

But enough about the message of the film. Even with the heavy subject matter at hand, the film takes us through the leisurely- paced life in an anonymous sub-saharan village, and we get treated to many of the joys and even the humor of their daily life as well. I believe the director would like to say that village life, and even many traditions, are not inherently good or bad; in fact many will probably feel even some envy of the idyllic village and its rich culture. This, however, also happens to be the backdrop of a ritual whose meaning is long forgotten, not to mention excessively cruel. And cities are plenty filled with cruelty of different types.

The fact that the director is male makes the impact of the film all so much stronger, as he shows no sympathy to men in general, and sees the weakness of the female role in African culture (which is just an extreme picture of sexual discrimination everywhere; and ironically men are always giving lip service to women). Thus the general shortage of strong men in the story may be pointed out as one of the film's weaknesses. On the other hand, the women are all top-rate actresses and their roles are realistic, and the near absence of character clichés (among major characters) is almost stunning.

The story is simply told, and many may think it is all too painfully obvious, but I think it is a work to observe on multiple levels: e.g., when the story seems not to be moving ahead we get a chance to learn about village life (albeit not unrelated to the overall work), or we get generous helpings of the character development of the three wives. Subtle interactions among villagers may bore some, but I found them fascinating. It's not made like some Hollywood movie, and thank God for that.
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Wonderful, moving film
Rishi Chaitanya21 February 2005
This is my first experience watching a film made in Africa. What a wonderful film to begin with! Moolade is one of the best films I have seen in recent times. It is a social commentary on the position of women in many parts of the African continent focusing on female genital mutilation (circumcision) called as "purification". The movie is tightly scripted, full of subtle, thought-provoking observations of the familial and social order in an unnamed African community. The director patiently tells the story of a woman (Colle) who is against female circumcision and offers a protection (Moolade) to four little girls who escape the ritual and seek shelter from her. The men in the community are unable to comprehend or handle her actions and the change it would bring in the community. They see her actions as a threat to the status quo and to the traditions. Ancient or modern, many traditions are based on superstitions and worse yet, are harmful to people. There is absolutely no question that female circumcision is a horrific practice that is not only physically harmful to women but also one of the worst forms of oppression. How deep this rot has spread in the community is lucidly depicted in the movie. The men in the community are unable to think outside the traditions and the women, especially Colle, end up paying a steep price for them to learn and grow.

Some scenes in the movie were very powerful and disturbing - the female circumcision (the actual process happens off screen), the scene where Colle's husband f**ks her (she is cut), the climax and the denouement. However, the movie proceeds at a relaxed pace in tune with life in the community, and always has interesting things to say. I was fascinated by the culture and the people that were in the movie, outside of the issues of female oppression. The movie is also backed by strong performances, particularly from Fatoumata Coulibaly, who portrays Colle with an interesting blend of resolution and motherliness - a powerful performance in a powerful film.

DO NOT MISS! 9 out of 10
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Africa ought to be proud of this film
Jugu Abraham30 December 2005
Ousmane Sembene is a colossus among African filmmakers. He is what Kurosawa and Ray are to Asia. At 82, this man is making films on women's problems, on colonialism, on human rights without losing sight of African culture.

"Moolaade" deals with rebellion by African women against female circumcision, a tradition upheld by elders, Muslim and animist, in a swathe of countries across Saharan and sub-Saharan Africa. Interestingly, the film is an uprising within the social traditions that allow the husband full powers over his wives and acceptance of other social codes to whip his wife in public into submission. How many women (and feminist) directors who preach about female emancipation would have dared to make a film on this subject in Africa? The subject could cause riots in countries such as Egypt. Sembene is more feminist than women and I admire this veteran for this and other films he has made. He graphically shows how women are deprived of sexual pleasures through this practice and how thousands die during the crude operation.

"Moolaade" deals with other aspects of Africa as well. It comments on the adherence to traditional values that are good--six women get protection through a code word and piece of cloth tied in front of the entrance to the house. It comments on materialism (including a bread vendor with a good heart for the oppressed who is called a "mercenary" by the women who claim to know the meaning of the word) that pervades pristine African villages (the return of a native from Europe and the increasing dependence on radios for entertainment and information).

Sembene's cinema is not stylish--its style stems from its simplicity and its humane values. Sembene's films allow non-Africans to get inside the world of the real Africa far removed from the world of the Mandelas, constant hunger and the epidemic of AIDS that the media underlines as Africa today. Sembene's film is not history, it is Africa today. The performances are as close to reality as you could get.

At the end of the film shown at the recent Dubai Film Festival, I could not but marvel at a man concerned not at making great cinema for arts' sake but using it creatively to improve the human condition of a slice of humanity the world (and the media) prefers to ignore.
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Empowering and applicable
ncbrian23 March 2005
This is a movie that you should not miss. This is the type of movie that has the potential to change the world. I know that may sound cliché and cheesy, but it's the truth. The movie comes from Senegal and deals with the still common practice of female circumcision.

This masterpiece has been created by Ousmane Sembene, the 81-year old father of African cinema. Besides having such a powerful a surprisingly applicable theme, it is artfully filmed. The fact that it is created by someone who has lived in Africa making movies his entire life is reason enough to see this movie. Although there are many films are about Africa, there are very few that capture Africa as it really is. Sembene is a master of it.

Then there's the colorful story. It's hard to believe that this type of lifestyle is still very common in parts of Africa. The urgency of this message will captivate you. It may make you appreciate living in a country like the US, that seems to have come so far when it comes to woman's rights, but even more than that, it will hopefully create a common tie across the board knowing that every human desires and deserves their right to life. The humanity of this film is painfully clear. There's no avoiding a change of heart and mind. All this said, Senegal has some difficultly finding actors that can handle the depth of this subject. But don't let that take anything away from your experience. It's possible the most empowering movie I've this this year or any.
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Tribute to the African Woman
Nzup29 August 2005
Moolaade is a tribute to the African Woman, our Mother, That which gave us birth, that which gives birth to kings, that which gives birth to the fiercest hunters and fighters, and unfortunately... that which circumcise too!

Sembene's movie is a true and genuine portrait of the African society, it is great when showing the rapports between Man and Woman, Man and Man, Woman and Woman, as we know from other great African wise Men as the late Francis Bebey (Agatha Moudio's Son). Wit Moolaade, Sembene goes even further and shows us the flip side of the coin of the African traditions, the Tyrany and hypocrisy of the Men and Society Eldest against the Women and the others.

I have no idea of film making, but Moolaade could have been, maybe, a little bit shorter. In my eyes, 2 hours was a bit too long...
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best film for 2004
bayomad14 July 2005
The film is one of the greatest films I have been privileged to see. the score is phenomenal, the cinematography is breath taking, and the composition is out of this world. Sembene is a master of film-making and with this film he attest to that accolade that he is indeed the GREAT ONE!! the pace of the film is not as slow as some other films, but then again this is not Hollywood, the use of his characters to great effect only symbolises the fact that only Sembene can do something very exciting with some thing little. great film a must for all enthusiasts of world cinema and the likes. I like the fact that THE GREAT ONE has decided to tackle an issue that is of great importance in certain parts of the world and he has done it to great effect. GREAT FILM
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A Conventional Though Compelling Discourse On A Long-Practiced Form Of Abuse
Muldwych21 January 2011
In veteran African film-maker Ousmane Sembene's final feature, the viewer is transported to a remote village in Burkina Faso, where one woman has dared to stand against the long-held local tradition of 'purification', the euphemistic term for circumcision in prepubescent girls. Giving sanctuary to a group of children due to undergo the often fatal rite of passage, and with seemingly the entire village against her, the woman's only recourse is to enact the moolaadé, or 'magical protection', which none dare oppose. Then her troubles really begin. While the film's anti-circumcision stance will certainly be preaching mainly to the choir and its construction fairly conventional both in terms of storytelling and production, 'Moolaadé's subject matter cannot fail to strike a chord in the viewer, dramatically bringing to life a custom that still affects the lives of many today.

Burkina Faso is not the only country where the practice continues (nor is it a practice exclusive to some Western African nations), however a 2006 study by the World Health Organization found that approximately 72.5% of Burkinabé girls and women were circumcised, making the Senegalese director's choice of location a highly valid one. In the film, the 'purification', carried out by an elite group of women in the tribe – importantly underscoring that proponents of the tradition are not wholly defined by gender – is seen to be highly traumatic and physically damaging to the victim, and frequently fatal.

The term 'purification' speaks volumes of the perception of females and sexuality held by those in favour of the custom. Other arguments supporting the practice as expressed in 'Moolaadé' speak of a long-held tradition traveling so far back into the mists of time that no-one seems able to explain the actual reason for it, and finally, that it is a requirement of Islam. Certainly there will be many Muslims who will take issue with this, and Sembene makes a point of showing Burkina Faso's complex cultural potpourri. On top of its indigenous animist roots, the society also shows traces of its French colonial past, as well as being a melting pot of many religions, the lines between which are heavily blurred. Add to this the increasing influence of modern technology and it is not hard to comprehend how beliefs have played a steady game of Chinese Whispers.

Indeed technology is seen as the greatest threat of all to the preservation of the strongly patriarchal society, with the village serving as a microcosmic stand-in for many cultures the world over. With the dreaded radio spewing forth subversive ideas from distant (and not-so-distant) lands, the local women find themselves increasingly able to articulate a 'worrying' desire for independence and opposition to values never-before challenged. A perhaps inevitable scene reminiscent of 'Fahrenheit 451' comes in answer to this rebellion, though in a wonderful display of irony, the most celebrated man in the village is the only one to have swapped the illiberal world of the tribe for the free market corridors of corporate France. Those responsible for challenging the status quo fight their corner in the flickering shadows of burning torches, mob rule and genuine fear. Not all, however, are so easily cowed into submission.

'Mooladé' has an excellent and believable cast to bring this turbulent society to life, from star Fatimouta Coulibaly as the brave Collé Ardo, to Ousmane Konaté, playing her husband's unpleasant and hardline brother, Amath. Joseph Traoré, as the victorious homecoming son Doucouré, skillfully depicts the mild-mannered success story increasingly caught between the values of two very different worlds, and special mention goes to Lala Drabo, who, though only in a supporting role, conveys the raw anguish of loss caused by the purification.

For all this 'Mooladé' is constructed in a fairly simple and conventional way. The narrative is robbed of complexity by the strong stance against female circumcision by its writer, as opposed to simply telling the story and letting the viewers decide. Instead, the protagonists and the villains are clearly drawn, and, sympathetic to the cause, the viewer takes no journey through the story – they have already arrived from the outset. How the film is perceived in nations where female circumcision is common would presumably be an entirely different matter, and it would be interesting to find out if it has altered any viewpoints.

The foreign viewer will also pay more attention to the cultural depictions of the colorful appearance of Burkinabé culture, of its tribal nature, its sounds, and the different behaviour of its people. It is as much a window into another world as it is a commentary on the struggle against a dangerous custom. This though is brought to the film by its overseas audience: its director does not go out of his way to highlight the culture as a spectacle in its own right. It perhaps does not matter therefore that on the production side, 'Moolaadé' is not an adventurous foray into film-making. While I would have preferred a less-biased and therefore more confident approach, it is not as if I didn't go into the film with a firm view on the subject of female circumcision myself. Taking a stand on the issue is ultimately, what 'Mooladé' is all about.

For this reason above all, I highly recommend the film, and of course, foreign viewers like myself will also discover one of the multi-layered cultures of Western Africa within of which it is such an ingrained part. Although not a cinematic masterpiece, 'Mooladé' is a very moving and very human drama that I hope will continue to get its point across in places where that message needs to be heard most.
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Great film from Africa about a timely issue
Andres Salama9 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I found this film from the recently deceased Senegalese director Ousmane Sembene very interesting in its description of life in a rural village in Africa, specially in its description of the communal family structure (I know it's a cliché, but it's true that in Africa it takes a village to raise a child). While I come from a very different culture, I felt that I was able to understand what was going on, the struggle for power in the village between the men and the women. And Sembene was a really talented director, with a humanist sensibility. About the subject matter, a group of women who oppose the genital mutilation of young girls, well, as they say about song or movies against war or hunger, who can make a movie in favor of war or hunger? (on second thought, there has been many movies in favor of war). And it is touching that the village vendor (who appears at first to be the least likable person in the town, as he cares more about money than about the rural traditions) ends up being a martyr in the cause of the girls. Highly recommended.
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Jackson Booth-Millard8 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This African film is one I found in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, I knew nothing about it before reading up on it, but I was definitely up for trying it. Basically set in an African village, the people carry out the tradition of 4-9-year-old girls being "cut" (the act of female genital mutilation). All children know that this operation is horrible torture and sometimes lethal, and all adults know that following the ritual some women can only give birth by Caesarean section. It comes to the day for this ritual, and six girls are going to be approached, two of them drown themselves in a well to escape the operation, the four remaining girls are protected by Collé Gallo Ardo Sy (Fatoumata Coulibaly), who seven years ago refused to have her daughter circumcised. The woman uses a coloured rope attached to the lower poles outside a house door, this is is known as Moolaadé ("magical protection"), no one dares to step over the rope to fetch the children, the "magic" can only be revoked by Collé herself. The relatives of Collé's husband persuade him to whip her in public to make her revoke, and opposite groups of women shout to her to revoke or to remain focused on protecting the girls, but none of the women interfere. Collé is close to collapsing following the attempts from tormentors to end the protection of the girls, the merchant called Mercenaire (Dominique Zeïda) takes action and stop the maltreatment, therefore after leaving the village he is hunted by those opposed, and is murdered out of sight. In the end all women are united because of the pain caused by genital cutting, they pursue those who carry it out and shout "No more genital cutting!", and Collé is able to remove the moolaadé, all four girls are safe. Also starring Maïmouna Hélène Diarra as Hadjatou, Salimata Traoré as Amasatou, Mah Compaoré as Leader of the purifiers and Aminata Dao as Alima Bâ. The subject of female genital mutilation has been tackled in film before, it is a highly sensitive and controversial issue, still practised in African countries, this film truly does emphasise the human aspect of the topic, there is some violence along the way of course, but it is a compassionate story, a most watchable social drama. Very good!
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An Immersion Into An Ancient Culture: Colorful and Haunting
museumofdave10 March 2013
We fall into our movie habits, and I wasn't particularly anticipating a film concerning genital mutilation; truth to tell, I kept putting it aside while choosing something which I thought would be more entertaining. Dumb me. Moolade is a stunning film in many ways--it takes about twenty minutes to get with the rhythms of another culture, and to figure out in which direction the plot is headed; but once you settle into the Senegalese village, and marvel at the village itself, and get to know several of the main characters, it's a fascinating and ultimately uplifting trip into a world few of us will ever experience first hand; it's also beautifully photographed, with dazzling color and a sense of place that is haunting.

Warning: this is not an action movie, nor is it a cheerer-upper or mindless entertainment. It is a thoughtful film with a human viewpoint about the possibility of freedom for any individual in any culture, as well as an memorable introduction to the cinema of Africa.
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Heeart wrenching African masterpiece !!!
vishnudoc27 February 2013
8. MOOLAADE (SENEGAL) Ritual genital mutilation of female children for the purpose of preserving chastity is an age old cruel custom practiced in many North African , Middle East and South East Asia nations , expats in the US and Europe from these countries do this practice though it is illegal in the host nations . This powerful African movie portrays a headstrong village woman's fight tacitly supported by other fellow women against the ghastly custom , how the conservatives try to muzzle her down , how though few some men with remnants of sanity tries to do something about the barbaric practice , how even educated and travelled young men bow to the custom in the name of culture and tradition . The genital cutting or "purification" as they call it is done with unsterile knives by local priests , without anesthesia and can result in psychological trauma , infections , scarring , painful menstruation and intercourse and difficulties during childbirth . Africa is a place where taking up the gun for money is considered as a profession ….. the "mercenary" as they are known , one such visits the village as a vendor gets involved with the plight of the women and meets a tragic ending . Amateurish acting by local people do not in anyway diminish the powerful message of this well crafted must see movie . It takes us far away to hitherto unfamiliar dark world of interior Africa , this time post colonial Senegal through Burkina Faso . African director Ousmane Sembene lending support to social reform process initiated by conscious Africans and international organizations . Great movie …… an African ' Subrahmanyapuram '. Open your eyes to another world , African realities … subjugated life in remote dark corners of the world !!!
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Adequate African Tale
pandabat2 September 2005
On more than one occasion while watching this movie I thought to myself "Why did I come to see this?". I felt that the score on this website rated the movie a bit higher than its worth but hey, that's what the mysteriously weighted votes came out at so someone must think its great. Essentially this movie deals with four girls running away from their female circumcision ceremony and taking refuge with a woman who herself had not allowed her daughter to be 'cut' a few years previously. The movie follows the controversy and confrontations of people and ideologies in the face of this woman protecting, with the use of her own 'magic powers', the petrified children against tradition, religious powers and patriarchal politics. The story is not overly complicated and the performances range from great down to the standard you'd expect to see at a primary school production. Cinematography and special effects don't really come into it either for this is storytelling at its most basic though the subject matter does lend the movie a level of emotion and empathy it perhaps would not otherwise have. Ultimately this is a movie with a message for the parts of the world where female circumcision still takes place and for this, rather than for any merit it has a movie, that it is important that this movie was made and is hopefully seen by those affected. I wouldn't go out of my way to watch this again but I'm not part of the true target audience!
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Moolade is made by an old man and you can notice it.
jaapkeller19 December 2005
Moolade is made by an old man and however I am old to, you can notice it. The film is slow and the beautiful people, landscapes and buildings made it I gave it a 4 instead a 1. What bothered me the most was that Africans in this film are childish and superstitious. A tiny wire makes it impossible to enter a house! Circumsision is originally an African habit. Its not an Islam law to do this cruel invasion of the body. I have seen Masaï doing it, not believing in Allah. You see a young man returning from Paris handing out money to the locals. You see the adoration for Western wealth. The director walked the same path after being a employee at the Citroen automobile factory. The humbleness of woman is disturbing me. Also when its the truth it is something to fight against and not only the circumcision. I had the feeling watching a traffic accident an unhealthy curiosity.
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harry-762 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The remarkably high ratings given "Moolaade" by both public and critics prompted our attendance. However, I and my party found it extremely redundant and tedious.

Despite fine camera work and striking depictions of rural life in an African village, the storyline failed to move forward.

After listening for an hour to references, debates, and discussions about "PURIFICATION" (that word along with the word "CUT" was always in caps on subtitles) the film seemed to have a one-track mind.

We got the idea early on about the controversy of having a female procedure performed. Also the conflict of old customs against the more modern, liberated way of thinking.

But that idea was repeated over and over to the point of exhaustion, which encouraged our departure after about an hour. We got out of the film what we were supposed to, and it's nice to know others managed to receive much more.

A final word: the titles left much to be desired. First they were in a kind of fancy handwritten script, which grew weary to the eye; and second, they were white, which made it difficult to read against light backgrounds.
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Real Human Rights & Democracy
lastliberal19 June 2008
Purification is the process of rendering something pure, i.e. clean of foreign elements and/or pollution. In this film, the village elders purify all young girls to make them fit for marriage. Some die as a result, but that's just too bad. It is like the young men and women who must die to purify the world in the image of the neocons now in power in America. We must purify the World.

Let's not mince words here. Purification in this film is genital mutilation, performed on children without their consent for some archaic, often wrongly held beliefs, reason. Death can be the result, as they do it in this film with some bloody, dirty knives.

The basis of the film is one woman who manages to say no and protect four children who ran away. Two others ran away, but they were most likely caught and murdered. Sure, the film says otherwise, but we often don't hear the whole truth - like when our leaders say America doesn't torture.

Yes, she suffers tremendous pain for what she is doing, but fortunately Mel Gibson didn't make this film or it would have been much worse. In the end, there is a new respect for human rights as the village rises up against the murdering elders and puts them in their place.

If you care at all about what is happening in many parts of the world and the effect it has on women, then this is a "must-see" film.
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