Timbuktu

I usually don’t watch a movie based on a trailer. I find most of the trailers these days tell enough of the movie to keep me from seeing the movie. Especially comedies which have most, if not all, of the jokes. Seems the trailer-making folks have forgotten that trailers are an artform. Their job is to get me to want to see the movie. Only “Gravity” recently has done that for me.

So when I saw the trailer for “Timbuktu”, I went, “Hmmm.” Then “Maybe, just maybe.” The music got my initial attention. I especially wanted to know how a blues number was in a movie that had a setting where the blues shouldn’t be. In addition, there was this contrast between the guys with the guns and the ordinary people. All this intrigued me.

I must say that my expectations about the movie had risen against my better judgement. When the blu-ray arrived from Netflix, I decided maybe this one needed a night when I could focus on the movie.

I was not disappointed. This is a film I want to see several times. The ancient Malian city of Timbuktu could be a distant world from ours. The setting did remind me of David Lynch’s “Dune” as well as Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Sheltering Sky”. Life there is that alien to a modern westerner.

Stuck on the edge of the desert, life goes on despite the city being occupied by jihadist. The citizens find ways to thumb their noses at the occupiers. Like boys playing football (soccer) without a soccer ball. Refusing to wear gloves which the jihadist demand for some strange reason. Singing and playing music against the jihadist directive. It gives a real glimpse into how life goes on, no matter who’s in charge.

But the main story is of a cattle herder, Kidane, his wife, Satima, and Toya, his beloved daughter. It is this family’s relationship, and the ordinariness of it, that director, Abderrahmane Sissako, uses to reveal the humanity of these people.

It’s been a long time since I have been introduced to a great contemporary film. In addition to a wonderful story and great music, the cinematography was absolutely gorgeous. But I gotta tell you this is a great film. I was not disappointed at all.

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