Moolaadé (2004, Ousmane Sembene)

The whole point of keeping a film journal is to write about these movies right after I see ’em, to preserve details, remember plot points, since I’m so quick to forget things like that. Moolaade is the kind of movie I feel comfortable waiting three weeks to write about, since I’m not about to forget any of the details. Maybe so memorable since I talked about it with Katy afterward or since we watched it in two parts spanning a week, but I think just cuz it’s a simply told and visually exciting and completely unique and memorable movie on its own.

01

Collé is the middle of three wives, I believe, and has had what we’ll call “the surgery”. Sex is unpleasant, as it should be. Four girls run away from the pre-surgical ceremony and ask her for protection, and she offers it. As long as they stay in her household and she doesn’t utter the phrase to break the spell, nobody can touch these kids. The villagers throw every kind of intimidation at her… husband whips her in public, it is promised that Collé’s daughter (who has also avoided the surgery) will never marry (untrue, as the guy she was promised to marry is a well traveled man, liberated from local superstition), Collé is personally threatened, all women’s radios are stolen and destroyed, and eventually the merchant is murdered. One of the girls is captured and dies in surgery, but Collé saves three, and celebrates with their mothers at the end.

02

All customs and beliefs in town are passed down through the ages with apparently little outside influence until the merchant and Collé’s daughter’s man and the radios start threatening the status quo with talk of modernity and primitive feminism… then the red-cloaked enforcers and village elders start cracking down and insisting on compliance with The Old Ways. It provokes an advancement of human rights, but a loss of (admittedly repressive) tradition and local custom. Funny how in movies, radio is almost always a good thing and television almost always bad.

Great movie – a shock after watching Black Girl first. Don’t know why I thought they’d be stylistically similar (since from the same director) although there’s forty years between them.

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