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54 Ratings

Barbaric Land

Pays barbare

France, 2013


We pore over material relating to Italian colonial Ethiopia (Abyssinia), recently unearthed in a private film archive. We scour those individual film frames of colonialism, studying them with a magnifying lens, and transcribe the captions…

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Barbaric Land Directed by Yervant Gianikian, Angela Ricci Lucchi
Pays barbare evocatively renders the delusional narrative of righteous might and submissive “other” that underlies these clips. A plaintive, partly sung voiceover runs through, like a dirge, and unveils the camera as an unwitting, but damning witness but also a handy, pliable tool in the dissemination of colonial myths.
March 04, 2014
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By way of its opening film, the sponsor-unfriendly Pays Barbare (Barbaric Land) by Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi – a half-convincing attempt to show the contemporary relevance of archive footage of Italy’s fascist colonial past – the festival expressed its determination not to surrender to the blackmail of austerity.
November 13, 2013
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Though prone to seemingly arbitrary aesthetic choices—colouring or negativizing the footage, for instance—there are moments of chilling power here. One such moment is that in which a telegram is read in voice-over, in which Mussolini vindicates the use of gas “for superior reasons of national defence” (i.e., the extermination of a mass race). Another is the film’s parting line, which confronts its audience to remind them of a banal but immovable truth. Each period has its fascism.
October 21, 2013
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