Desert wind, a dusty expanse, wide screen, everywhere, men pop out of the ground like aliens. A gold mine in Burkina Faso. Mocktar (Makena Diop) has driven from Niger to work there. His reserve but also his dignity hide a pain that the film will gradually reveal. He blends in with these gold washers, as these kind of legionnaires come from some other place, ready to risk their lives in these weak-ceilinged bottlenecks with no possibility of rescuing those that they bury. For many of them, the dream of wealth is an enduring one and their struggle as immigrants is a perversion of life that Laurent Salgues explores like an allegory of the African tragedy.
Sand and ochre colors, low key and halftone, even the work clothes are in harmony with the dust that invades everything, even dreams, and which recalls that which rises when dead are buried. It sticks to the faces and bodies emerging from the mine, everyday, in a tragic ritual, it turns these half-madmen into ghosts. The mine is their prison. They accept its merciless rules without flinching, from the boss’ racketeering to the inhuman working conditions, and their work has nothing to envy from Sisyphus. The distribution of roles is immutable, and when the worker Thiam (Rasmane Ouedraogo) becomes the boss, his position will get the better of the humanity he had in him.
All this, Laurent Salgues depicts without sociology, with a plethora of fixed ecstatic shots of a veiled plastic beauty, often with a distance, without intruding, just the men’s future in a merciless world. He relies on Makena Diop and Rasmane Ouedraogo’s ability to carry their characters’ interiority to make his film a sweet and slow monochrome meditation, like Mocktar offering a disenchanted and unjudgemental vision of a world that goes round in circles, a dream of unattainable wealth, because when gold is finally found, it does not profit anybody except for the one who gives to find his integrity again. This gold washer with peasant hands can only lose his visions in the desert dunes that have become his life, but with the dignity of a continent which keeps inside of it the meaning of the value of beings and the right place of things.
Translated by Sutarni Riesenmey///Article N° : 6884