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Ainsi meurent les anges

Moussa Sene Absa director, producer, screenwriter.; California Newsreel (Firm), production company.; MSA productions, presenter.


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  • Title:
    Ainsi meurent les anges
  • Author: Moussa Sene Absa director, producer, screenwriter.; California Newsreel (Firm), production company.; MSA productions, presenter.
  • Description: Moussa Sene Absa's latest work pushes the formal boundaries of African cinema to explore the complex interplay of history and psychology in contemporary Africa. Intensely personal and at the same time deeply political, Ainsi meurent les anges combines the elegiac lyricism of his Ça twiste à Poponguine with the acerbic social critique of Tableau Ferraille. What is perhaps most surprising is that this creative freedom was won precisely by working within the constraints of new low-budget video technology. Appearing the same year as Karmen Geï and Faat Kine, it attests to the continuing vitality of Senegalese filmmaking as it propels African cinema in boldly innovative directions. Ainsi meurent les anges shows how a "dream deferred" can become a nightmare, how a stolen past can make the present impossible and render modernity untenable, how history can become paralyzed. It is a film about the loss of innocence - by an individual and by an entire generation. These lost possibilities, these foregone selves, irrecoverable yet unforgettable, are the angels of the title. They are not the absolute, unhearing angels of Rilke's Duino Elegies or even the sympathetic onlookers of Wim Wender's Wings of Desire; they are aspects of ourselves, fragile as human hope. This theme of the penetration of the present by the past, of the narrative by the subconscious, is given structural articulation through the dizzying intercutting of color and black-and-white sequences in the film's bravura opening. Color footage introduces us to Mory, a troubled Senegalese poet (played by writer/director Moussa Sene Absa himself) living outside Paris with his French wife and their children. We watch his marriage fall apart under crosscultural pressures, specifically his father's demand that he take a second wife in Senegal. Homeless in winter, separated from his children, his poems scattered over a Paris street, Mory returns to Senegal, penniless and with uncertain prospects. At the same time, black-and-white sequences reveal the psychological origins of Mory's present malaise: his belated discovery that he is the stepson of his abusive father, his early love for Kumba, his father's destruction of that love out of caste bigotry and sexual envy; Kumba's subsequent marriage to a rich man and death in childbirth, and Mory's disillusioned departure for France. Interspersed throughout the film, the director's poetry frames the cinematic present within a language of memory and loss - Mory's and Africa's. As in other films in this collection (Faat Kine, Fathers) patriarchy, here seen in the mythic conflict between son and father, takes on historical and political resonance, specifically the theft of Africa's future - first by slavery and colonialism and now by a corrupt post-colonial elite. Mory has lost Kumba, the hope for a post-independence Africa free of traditional authoritarianism, yet he cannot retreat into an alien European modernity as the conspicuousness of his African dress in France symbolizes. In the end, Mory also loses contemporary Africa when his intended second wife, Yacine, frustrated by his indecision and poverty, marries a rich German, in a clear reference to Africa's growing indebtedness to the West.
  • Publication Date: 2001
  • Publisher: San Francisco, CA : California Newsreel
  • Format: 1 online resource (57 minutes).
  • Subjects: Fathers and sons -- Senegal -- Drama; Poets -- Drama; Interethnic marriage -- Drama; Adult child abuse victims -- Drama; Senegalese -- France -- Paris -- Drama; Feature films; Fiction films
  • Language: French;Wolof
  • Source: 01DAL UDM ALMA

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