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Ousmane Sembène's Ceddo has a similar look and feel to his earlier Emitaï, a kind of docu-drama that takes the camera back in time, using an entire Senegalese village as actors to reenact a historical event that would have happened everywhere in Africa. Traditions are not explained to a Western audience, so for non-Africans, the approach is rather anthropological. In Ceddo's case, it chronicles the religious strife caused by the arrival of an Imam who converts the king, forcing animist traditionalists to rebel. There's also a Christian missionary in the village, so a third religious faction must also exist even if it isn't particularly present. Now, there's a lot of pageantry, and the acting, often done for the assembly (courtroom-style), will be off-putting to Western audiences, but it's quite correct. The great evil of religion is forced conversion, which is often justified as the saving of souls, but is really just a means of control. I think the richness in Ceddo (which is the name given to the unbelievers of the new faith) is in the fact that everyone knows everyone else in the village EXCEPT for the intruding converters, who did not grow up there. It makes all the interactions more resonant, and the disruption more tragic. Visually, Ceddo is sumptuous and colorful. Aurally, it starts with cool traditional instruments, but goes out swinging with Westernized funky jazz, which may or may not work for you. In a way, the climax shares something with '70s blaxploitation films, but it has nothing to do with Islam, so the sound conversion doesn't match the story's. I find Sembène's films (this is my third) extremely important because they tell stories no one else tells, giving voice to a point of view of the conquered as opposed to the self-serving conquerors.
Sadly, the movie is blocked in Germany by the GEMA.
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In 3 official lists
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This movie ranks #6 in Guide to African Cinema
This movie ranks #621 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #753 in Sight and Sound 2012 - Combined List