Friday, 5 June 2015

Opening with a Malian student standing alone in the suffocating aisles of a French supermarket, Abderrahmane Sissako's 61 minute debut feature, Life on Earth, quickly leaves Europe for Africa, following the student as he returns to the small, remote village of his childhood in search of his fading African identity. On arrival, Sissako, both director and actor, simply observes a day in the life of the village and its people, as the promise of a new millennium approaches: people use the only phone in the village to wish friends and relatives across the world a happy new year; a DIY radio show broadcasts excerpts from poet Aimé Césaire's essay on the negative impact of European colonialism, Discourse on Colonialism; farmers fight to keep flocks of birds from destroying their crops; a young woman has her photo taken.

Sissako doesn't really create a narrative out of these moments, instead using them to give a sense of this close-knit community on the precipice of modernity, but not quite there: the telephone barely works, frustrating callers with poor reception and long-winded dialling methods; and everyone in the village uses either donkeys or bicycles for transportation, with only the briefest glimpse of cars and motorcycles as they pass along the road. And then the millennium passes, unnoticed by the villagers: bicycle tyres still get punctures, birds still destroy crops, telephones still don't work; life in 2000 is exactly the same as in 1999.

No comments:

Post a Comment