Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Location: milwaukee, wi

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hyenas (Djibril Diop Mambety, 1992)

Hyenas is one of the bitterest, most pessimistic films I've ever seen about human nature. Director Djibril Diop Mambety adapted a French play, The Visit, and transposed its events to his homeland of Senegal. A woman, banished for adultery 30 years earlier, returns to find the town in dire straits. Everyone in the town is dirt poor, and the mayor has even had to sell the furniture out of the courthouse in order not to go bankrupt. Linguere Ramatou, the scorned woman, has become a millionaire - although we never find out how, and if it was all a ruse in the end. The mayor, seeing an opportunity, sends the town's most well-liked personality, Draman Drameh, who knew Linguere well 30 years ago, to sweet talk her into giving the town money.

Linguere does decide to give the town money, lots of money, but only if they offer her the body of the man who accused her of adultery so many years ago - everyone's favorite, Draman Drameh. At first, the town is outraged; the mayor even voices what I was thinking when he says something about how they would never become like Americans and give up someone they care about for mere material goods. Here lies the great divide between American culture and "non-Western" (for lack of a better term) ones: I have no doubt that if you asked a group of almost any Americans, we would have killed Draman with little or no doubt that we were doing the right thing. It's the power of a mob mentality, which does eventually take over this village as well.

Linguere, from this time on, sits on the sidelines and waits for the town to kill Draman, no matter how much they say they will never do it. She turns the town into hyenas, vicious scavengers who would kill one of their own for a little material gain. So it's not Draman's murder that is Linguere's ultimate revenge, but her pulling back of the curtain to reveal what these people are, what she's known for 30 years.

The film is pretty stylistically bare, but plenty of beautiful shots of the Senegalese wildlife and deserts. The film leaves a bitter taste in your mouth because of the vile core of human nature these villagers reveal. It's the perfect film for the pessimists among us.


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Comments on "Hyenas (Djibril Diop Mambety, 1992)"


Blogger math said ... (12:55 AM) : 

You had me at "one of the bitterest, most pessimistic films I've ever seen about human nature" - sounds great. Maybe will double-feature with Dogville sometime.


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