Category Archives: Imaginary Senegalese Cinema

#106 – Coeur, Le (Heart, The)

(1975, Sen/Fr, 136 min) Dir Mohammad Bamba. Cast Ousmane Faye, Ismaila Faye, Jimi Faye.

The kind of bizarre, hallucinatory travelogue through African history that one would expect from Mohammad Bamba. From the distant horizon on an unnamed plain come three tribesmen, a grandfather, father and son (played by real life grandfather, father and son Ousamane, Ismalia and Jimi) telling each other stories, whether of myth and legend or of their tribe and their life. As they travel they meet people from every era of African history – including Arab traders, the retinue from a mediaeval kingdom, a broken-down jeep of WW2 soldiers, Victorian prospectors and modern-day revolutionaries – but seem unfazed by this, even when they meet an elephant which claims to be a hunter trapped in that form or a star that has fallen to earth. The film ends as it began, the camera watching the three figures dissolve back into the horizon. An eerie trip which treats its fantasy with a straight face, its closest cinematic relative perhaps being the holy pilgrims of Bunuel’s The Milky Way. The blank landscape feels like a void and there is no music throughout save the sounds of the wind and the grass.

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