Sunday, March 25, 2007

L'Ami y'a bon

2004, France, directed by Rachid Bouchareb

Rachid Bouchareb's short film serves as a fascinating complement to Ousmane Sembène's Camp de Thiaroye, telling the story of the including, crucially, their exploitation at every turn by the colonial authorities, who attempted to dispense with the African soldiers as soon as they had proved their worth in European campaigns. The film uses beautifully etched animated imagery, and almost no words, to succinctly narrate the reality of one soldier's experience, and the brutal shattering of his illusions about his relationship and worth to France. The black and white imagery - with occasional flashes of colour - has a remarkable power, and functions as a strikingly effective method of transmitting the misery and violence of the soldiers' existence (at times, it reminded me of Rolf de Heer's The Tracker, which also turns to drawings to convey the worst excesses of another colonial experience).

Credit where it is due: L'Ami y'a bon is available online at Tadrart Films, while I wouldn't have discovered it in the first place had it not been for acquarello's wonderful site on "landmark world cinema."

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States