Sounds of Sand

By Marion Hänsel

Lire hors-ligne :

New disaster of the simplistic look that develop, despite the best intentions in the world, western directors when they take Africa as the set for their own fiction, Sounds of Sand, adapted from the novel « Chamelle » by Marc Durin-Valois and co-produced by RTBF and Arte has to be ranked among the saddest!
Of course, the film is entirely in French, because of the broadcasting marketing since the youngsters are the target. As for the cast, just take a Burkinabe and a Rwandan, put in their arms some cute Djiboutian children and here you get an African family. Anyway, nothing is contextualized: we will never learn anything about the mentioned conflicts, the belonging of the corrupted soldiers they meet, or the reasons that bring the simplistic drugged rebels to rise up. We will only know one thing: the water is running out in the village and the father of the family decides, as a good macho he is, to take the chance to travel by the dangerous lands to find more welcoming lands. His wife is no allowed to speak and will get slapped when she spends the night somewhere else to prevent him from choking the new born child who is unfortunately a girl. But when, magnanimous, he wipes away the blood he has made her shed from the nose asking what she wants to call it, the good feeling wins over. It is then the nice united family against the bad guys.
It is not in the title that you must look for a nuance. It should be then in the relationship between the saved child, the little Shasha, and her father, Rahne who vainly tries to make his family survive as it is gradually killed by adversity. But children speak like adults and the weight is general: situations, lengthy takes and fixity of the images, opinions and interpretations of the actors stuck with improbable literal dialogue, musical score… Not one image is common: everything is beautiful in each shot, landscapes, actors, without forgetting the little Shasha, naturally; she is so cute.
In building a fiction about survival in an Africa devoid of context, they use it to tell their little story, and misrepresenting it in passing: it is nor the opinion, or the filmed people’s story or word but a representation built in someone’s imaginary that thinks it knows and therefore thinks it can have the upper hand. It is pathetic with self-importance and arrogance. Postal cards are the set of a tragedy that would deserve some knowledge of the situation and not that distorted story. They progress in the desert with nothing on their head, as if Africans did not suffer from sun. And of course, it ends with a generous white character who knows more than everybody else: the doc in the refugee camp. Approximations shamelessly pile up, which all contribute to support the image of a wild Africa, and when Rahne is told that his children might lose their eyes that would be scalped to white people, one cannot help but think that this film might tear off children’s look.

///Article N° : 7001

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