In 1939, young men in French African colonies were recruited to fight the 'World's' war in Europe. Five years later, some returned to Camp Thiaroye to await back pay and demobbing. Tension between men and officers, complaints about chow, a misadventure in a brothel: staples of the basic training and/or prison camp genre are all present and correct. But although the influence of years in France is apparent (he fought in WWII himself), Sembene's is an African sensibility; and the after-effects of the culture clash (literal and metamorphical) precipitated by Hitler is but one of the themes in a subtle and moving picture. Through a series of everyday incidents, we gradually realise the extent of the French (white) officers' racism; the hypocritical games they play seem ironic at first, but lead to a shameful and bloody end. This, in microcosm, is a story of colonialism, told from the receiving end and taken to a radical conclusion. Sembene and Sow have made what is not only a humane, passionate film, but an honest and vital memorial to those men who died, after the war, at Camp Thiaroye.
Cast and crew
|Director:||Ousmane Sembene, Thierno Faty Sow|
|Screenwriter:||Ousmane Sembene, Thierno Faty Sow|
Camara Med Donsogho