directed by Ousmane Sembene
Senegal / France 2004

 

Recently I watched the documentary “The Day I Will Never Forget”, about female genital circumcision; a painfully film where women talk about how their lives were ruined by the tradition of removing labia and clitoris, sometimes with a kitchen knife, then sowing the vaginal opening together, so that she will remain clean until she is married. To me, there is nothing more degrading someone can do to a woman.

Then to watch Ousmane Sembene’s “Moolaadé”, only made me realize how incredible powerful and political a film it really was. By itself, it is pure magic, so beautifully simple filmmaking, poetical with a strong sense of social commitment, but with the reality in mind, I sit back in awe of Sembene as filmmaker.

In a small village in Burkina Faso, four young girls flee their “purification” ritual and seeks moolaadé (protection) with Collé, a herself circumcised women, who some years earlier helped her own daughter. This does not please the elders, and soon “a minor domestic disturbance” leads the entire village to a confrontation between village traditions and the set of values by Collé.

Two things are important when approaching African filmmaking. One is to understand, that their narrative tradition is very different from the one in the west, as they, even today, rely more on oral tradition versus our written tradition. As such, their approach to narrative is very, at least with western eyes, simple. The other thing is, that the majority of those watching these films have little if any education, so in order convey a point, you have to do it as simple as possible.

This simplicity can be seen in the films by Sembene. There is no small talk; people only say what is important to say. A word alone can change everything, noted here as Collé can end it all by saying one word. His mise-en-scene is also extremely non-superfluous. Each scene has in it what is needed in the scene, which again makes whatever object Sembene decides to include in a scene as powerful as his words. In “Moolaadé” it is especially radios and batteries, as they are the means to communicate with the outside world, and at one point, the men in the village confiscate Collé and the other women’s radios and pile up in the village square.

It is not just female genital circumcision, or mutilation, that Sembene addresses, but also sexual violence, domestic violence, and the role religion and traditional plays in controlling thoughts of people, especially women and how it is used to deprive them their sexuality by mutilation and arranged marriage with children. In so many words, this is almost pure Marxist filmmaking.

Sembene’s second film in his trilogy exploring Female Heroes of Daily Life, “Moolaadé” is a triumph of filmmaking; poetical, life affirming, political and comical. Each scene is carefully created, almost naively simple in mise-en-scene and dialogue, but so rich of life and involvement. Watching “Moolaadé”, one feels alive and part of Sembene’s world; thru laughter and tears. Film when it is most alive.
 

Henrik Sylow

Posters

Theatrical Release: May 15, 2004 (Cannes Film Festival)

Reviews    More Reviews  DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison: 

Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL vs. New Yorker (2-disc) - Region 1- NTSC

Big thanks to Henrik Sylow for the Review!

(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. New Yorker (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT)

DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL

New Yorker

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:59:58 (4% PAL speedup) 2:04:20
Video

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.25 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.0 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 Artificial Eye

Bitrate:

 New Yorker

Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital Bambara and French 2.0 Dolby Digital Bambara and French
Subtitles English, None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Interview with Ousmane Sembene (25:20 / 16x9)
• Making of 'Moolaadé' (24:46 / 4:3)
• Forward Promotional Film (7:12 / 4:3)
• Theatrical Trailer (1:31 / 4:3)
• Ousmane Sembene Filmography

DVD Release Date: November 14, 2005
Transparent Amaray Case

Chapters 14

Release Information:
Studio: New Yorker

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Interview with Ousmane Sembene (25:20 / 16x9)
• Making of 'Moolaadé' (24:46 / 4:3)
• Forward Promotional Film (7:12 / 4:3)
• Theatrical Trailer (1:31 / 4:3)
Disc 2

• "Making of" featurette (24:45)
• African premier footage from 2004 - Burkina Faso.
• Actresses interviews (Maïmouna Hélèn Diarra, Lala Drabo, and Aminata Dao) (10:14 in total)
• Two discussions on Female Genital Mutilation
• 16-page liner notes booklet (interview with Sembene by Professor Samba Gadjigo of Mount Holyoke College etc.)

DVD Release Date: February 19th, 2008
Keep Case

Chapters 35

 

Comments:
ADDITION: New Yorker - Region 1 - NTSC: The New Yorker package is a good one aside from their usual fatal flaw. The disc is dual-layered - anamorphic - it appears to have been correctly converted from the PAL standard to NTSC but we still have visible combing (see last capture). I have a strange feeling that this is a simple problem to overcome yet New Yorker have not found the solution. So essentially colors, detail and brightness swing marginally to the Artificial Eye product. I noted no differences in audio but the subtitle font looks much better on the UK disc.

Where New Yorker improves is the addition of a second disc (single-layered) of extras to compliment those, duplicated on the AE, found on the first disc. On disc 2 there is a kind of "Making of" featurette running almost 25 minutes - a solid extras along with an insightful Sembene interview on disc 1 for about the same length of time. There is some African premier footage from 2004 in Burkina Faso. Three short actresses interviews (Maïmouna Hélèn Diarra, Lala Drabo, and Aminata Dao) running 10 minutes in total. Some haunting discussions on Female Genital Mutilation and even a competent 16-page liner notes booklet (interview with Sembene by Professor Samba Gadjigo of Mount Holyoke College etc.). Good job with the supplements NY'er - now let's just get that 'combing issue' fixed and you'll be sitting pretty.

Certainly, this is a film that demands an audience and I appreciate NY'er bringing it to region one- locked audiences. Dependant on the system that you watch it on many may fully enjoy the New Yorker package. At the writing of this comparison the Artificial Eye is about 50% cheaper.       

***

ON THE ARTIFICIAL EYE: While a bit soft in details, it is about the only thing one can say about the transfer. There are minor mosquito's around the subtitles, but the image itself is basically flawless, showing no visible signs of compression artifacts. A soft, but beautiful transfer.

As additional material, AE has included an interview with Ousmane Sembene, where he talks about both making the film, his techniques as filmmaker, but also on its subject. Like a brief master class. A great interview.

Also present is a promotional video from FORWARD (Foundation For Womens Health Research and Development), which talks about the reality of "Moolaadé", of how they battle for instance female genital mutilation and the spreading of STDs, especially AIDS. A superb addition to this very political film, which helps raise awareness of the issues discussed.

The "Making of" documentary is quiet uninteresting, mostly b-roll.

 - Henrik Sylow

 



DVD Menus

 

(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL LEFT vs. New Yorker (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT)

 

 

New Yorker - Disc 2

 


Screen Captures

 

(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. New Yorker (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)


Subtitle sample
Note: Not same frame

 

 

 


(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. New Yorker (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

 


(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. New Yorker (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

 


(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. New Yorker (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

 


(Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. New Yorker (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

 


  (Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. New Yorker (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

Combing in the New Yorker

 

Report Card:

 

Image:

AE

Sound:

-

Extras: New Yorker
Menu: -

 

DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL

New Yorker

Region 1 - NTSC


 




 

Hit Counter

 

DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

Mail cheques, money orders, cash to:    or CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Thank You!