Seemingly blunt in its' message, La Noire De conveys the feeling of being 'noire' in France through the mask: the mask Diouana willingly yet unknowingly gives away. The mask that becomes the embodiment of her slavery in the house in France and the moments where, before the end, she claims it back to herself. As she says "it's hers" and "she was lied to". Frantz Fanon obviously at work here.
3.5 stars. Searing Brechtian cinema misrecognised as cinéma vérité. A compassionate and politically serious investigation into the difference between freedom in name and freedom in practice. I realised that I had been mispronouncing Sembène's name to my class - the kind of casual acting out of privilege embodied by the French couple. A film that teaches you to be on your toes against complacency.
BLACK GIRL seems at first like a fairly blunt embodiment of standard discourse around colonial appropriation of bodies and spirits, but does a tremendous about-face and becomes a stirring fable about spiritual resistance and reclamation. The final section of the film - in theory little more than an epilogue - turns the movie away from the standard prosody toward a deeply impactful poetry of overcoming. Sublime.
Those moments of glory, moments of beauty, moments of transcendence. I’ve called it pure cinema before. Moments of clarity, of honesty, of truth. I’ve had a difficult time deciding how to grade this, teetering between B+ and A-. It has a couple of those perfect moments. Is it enough? There are things that don’t quite work, but when it does work, it becomes profound.
This is in my mind the best movie ever to come out of Africa. It combines France as a virtual space of desire for a black woman, with the deception when she finally arrives there. Heartbreaking and beautifully shot. In many ways Ousmane Sembene is Africa's Tarkovsky, the thematic similarities between the two are legion.
3,5 Diouana's story is that of many Eastern European women who leave to take care of the old and sick in Western countries, are cooped up in employers' house around the clock, allowed to go out for a few hours on Sunday to attend the mass or the supermarket to buy next week provisions. What does anyone care for their psychical well-being and wear-up? Here's to them. Europe has got its intracontinental blacks aplenty.