Forget the managed hype on the newscasts, forget the sometimes radical emails that appear in one's inbox, here is a real picture of what life is like both in the vastness of the Sahara and under Fundamentalist Islamic rule. Personally I have no way of validating the truth of what is depicted here but it rings so true, so real so human (even in its inhumanity) that I believe what I see. It's a slow film but then life in those extreme areas is also slow, paced and resigned to the vagaries of nature, man and God. A wonderful film, full of wonderful and vicious people trying to live lives as they see fit.
Abderrahmane Sissako has suggested that he wanted to grant all parties their humanity. I believe many will pounce on what's depicted as reflecting a medievel faith at loose. There is some truth in that but what is seen is the first wave of conquest. They are flying under the banner, yes; religious conviction is an element, but people are always telling us, 'follow the money'. These young men think on some level that they act honorably as soldiers of God. Most will see what's here are deeply threatening to their values. Two responses to all this is threatened people fleeing and safer havens erecting barriers. The director made this to educate; mission accomplished.
Visually impressive, this film transported me to a world that I am not familiar with. It is an excellent film from Africa portraying the oppression of people by extremists all in the name of God. Subtitles.
I recently borrowed the book The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer and saw this DVD in the catalog. I thought it was some sort of travel show, but it is not, it is a feature film (drama) about life in Timbuktu while occupied by Islamic Jihadists (fundamentalists) and how their actions affect the lives of ordinary citizens and their interpretation of the Koran comes across rather far-fetched and self-serving. The film starts with a truck full of Jihadists tracking antelope with their guns and one of the character says, “don’t kill it, tire it.” Next scene, someone is shooting and destroying African sculptures with rifles. The story evolves so that the main character is taken to trial for his actions. This film is beautifully filmed and the actors are excellent. I got a bit bogged down with the subtitles (someone is talking away and no subtitles appear) and there are several languages occurring in the film (Arabic, French, a local Mali dialect, a little English). I was a bit confused with the ending (look at imdb.com for some summaries of the film.) Be sure to watch the DVD extra an interview with the director. He says he didn’t want to demonize the jihadists, but does show them arresting people for listening playing music and singing, they confront a woman selling fish and demand that she should be wearing gloves, they are involved with a forced marriage of a local girl to one of the Jihadists, but these guys also are violating Sharia by smoking (in secret out in the desert) by visiting a local married woman while her husband is away from their home. So, do as I say, not as I do or some such thing. The director does speak briefly about the damaged libraries and manuscripts in Timbuktu, noting that western culture really values such things but many African cultures have an oral history tradition and things like manuscripts are somewhat ephemeral to African culture. One beautiful scene has local kids playing soccer without a ball (guess that is not allowed) but they seem to be having fun enjoying their favorite sport with their friends. The last scene of the film is an interpretation of the first scene. Beautiful film, a bit depressing, but it shows at the gut level the true basis of humanity and it is not religion or politics, but love, hope, perseverance and faith in your beliefs for humanity.
The film's dreamy visuals and beautiful human moments are starkly contrasted with the looming, spreading violence perpetrated by the extremist Islamist forces that are taking over the town. A window into the daily tragedy happening next door.
This is a 2014 French-Mauritanian film directed by Abderrahmane Sissako.
Kidane and his family live peacefully in the dunes near Timbuktu.
When the Jihadists come, however, everything changes.
Music, laughter, cigarettes, even soccer have been banned.
It is a tragic heartbreaking story.
Especially, the scene of a public stoning of an unmarried couple appears quite disgusting, disturbing and inhumane.
This is an excellent movie in all respects. It makes it point without demonizing anyone. The extended picture of the community in the first two-thirds of the film serves to show what was lost. As well, it has a wonderful sound track. Highly recommended.
My comments are not falsified. I didn't find this movie slow in the least bit. I found it to be one of the better movies from Africa among the dozens that I have seen the past few years. Though, I think it is less about going back to simpler ancient times, as one person put it, but rather living under someone's disjointed view of what is sacred. I'd watch this again before going to anything with "Star Wars" in the title. :)
To be fair, "Timbuktu" is slow, but most foreign films seem so after watching American movies. This French-Mauritanian film is set in a small village in Mali that's been occupied by a fundamentalist terrorist group. It follow a family who is just trying to lead a normal life under the occupation. It's subtle, beautifully shot, and empathetic, showing both the oppressive quality of the fundamentalists and the struggle of the average citizens. The ending is heartbreaking. Nominated for best foreign film in 2015.
visually and emotionally stunning, though it moves at the pace of a tribal civilization, still and timeless as a desert, but animated by human crises powerful and devastating as sandstorms
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