Daresalam

By Issa Serge Coelo

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Daresalam means the house of peace and this war film certainly talks about peace, an intense desire for peace. The rural farmers who rebel against the brutality of the exploitative regime have only this in mind. Revolution thereby emerges as the lesser evil. Two friends, Djimi and Koni, are caught in the spiral of violence. They commit themselves, affront the challenges, believe in ideals, progress, and understand, but their choices end up opposing them. Coelo does not judge either of them. He never falls into being over-simplistic. By tackling the question of commitment head on, he avoids opposing the good revolutionaries and the baddies. For in this wartime context, he is interested in the human and excels in reconstituting the cycle of life, everyone’s aspirations, sufferings and loves. He finds the right tone to represent violence, only evoking the bloody repression in little touches alternating them with Djimi’s flight. The film’s strength comes from its rhythm, not just because this saga keeps us baited, but also because it reveals – thanks notably to the finely directed acting – the profound rhythm of beings and things. This is clear in the farewell scene between Djimi and his mother, who has just lost her baby. The few gently spoken words pronounced in urgency, the impressively restrained gestures, and the gravity of the situation create a deep emotion that is far too subtle to be sentimental. There is a constant divide between reality and desire, which Koni sums up so well: « There are two worlds. The one we live in and the one we are fighting for« . This tension is not resolved, because « we haven’t had poverty’s hide« , and it is this terrible statement, this acute awareness of African reality that gives the film its force. Its intense beauty comes from the poetry it develops, which is admirably served by the music and Jean-Jacques Mrejen’s beautiful cinematography, giving the director’s final call to mobilize one’s energy for « things other than mopping up blood » all its resonance.

2000, 90′, Parenthèse Films (00 33 1 49 70 00 65)///Article N° : 5558

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