The film starts with a little background on Mali mythology and then the sacrifice above is performed to create a powerful magical tool. From here a story begins that is firmly rooted in an African culture that most of us are not familiar with beyond the meaning of the word animism. A young man has been protected by his mother for his entire life, but now he must protect himself. He must protect himself from his father who is determined to kill him with his magical powers.
|The Father And His Magic Pylon|
|The Young Man|
The young man must reach his uncle who can help him to protect himself from his father. On his journey, he meets different people living in a world filled with magic and spirits who can be called upon to do good and evil. Ultimately, the young man must face his father in what seems like a duel, but is really more a test of him and his father by the very magic and spirits that they wield. A test to see who should survive, if either.
However, there are problems with this film. First, it needed a larger budget. The world felt sparse and the magic bordered on cheesy rather than powerful and palpable like it should have. Second, the film needed more context. There is a meaning to the final scenes in this film that I guarantee you somebody from Mali will understand, but everyone else is going to be missing something. It’s a reality that if you are going to be making films like this in places like this, then you are going to be screening to a European and North/South American audience that need more help then this film provides.
That said, good African films don’t usually show up on the radar and when they do they are much more in the Western model then a uniquely African one. I say understand the problems, but see this film for an African cinematic experience I haven’t found elsewhere. I recommend it.