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Master in art of movie magic

By unknown | Jun 15, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Wesley Morris

Wesley Morris

It was naive to believe that the great Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene would live forever. But it was he who persuaded one it was possible. He died on Saturday at his home in Dakar, aged 84.

And while he had a late start as a moviemaker, his films got better with age. They were the work of a pioneer; fierce, didactic, abundantly alive with pride, shame, fury, hope and realism.

Sembene made it seem crucial for the so-called Third World to have a cinematic voice. His

films traced the effects of colonialism in West Africa . They could be tough on outsiders, but were toughest and most demanding on his fellow Africans.

Sembene is rightly regarded as having properly introduced Africa to the movie-going world. Black Girl, his first feature (1966) was aggressive. But above all, it was true. And that truth is what made his international reputation.

Yet if all he did was highlight trouble, Sembene would not have mattered as much as he did. Art was his activism. His movies were dramas that made you laugh, comedies that shook your heart, tracts that boiled the blood. His final masterpiece, 2004's Moolaad?was a discourse on genital mutilation. He mixed condemnation, naturalism, comedy, and music while exploring a cultural rite. The sardonic political grip of his earlier films was up there on screen; so were the civic ideals of his wiser, later work.

His death should ensure his movies a new visibility. But the seamless interweaving of ideology and entertainment in Moolaad?suggested a master just getting started. -The Globe


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