Thursday, December 31, 2009

Munyurangabo--a simple African tale

*Rwanda*2007*Lee Isaac Chung*97m*Rwanda*

After Hotel Rwanda, another movie about the tiny African nation and her tragic history .This one is completely different, and in all ways a far more uplifting and powerful an experience. In it's simplicity , unaffectedness and power it reminds me of Bahrani and  Ray.

Long after the massacres two teenagers, Sangwa and Munyarangabo, best friends and belonging to the two opposed communities , travel through the countryside to visit the family of the first after an absence of three years. The other boy--Ngabo for short-- is carrying an ugly looking machete, with the purpose of avenging the death of his father during the genocide.

Primarily, it is a film about a pastoral and agrarian community,  capturing the rhythms of life and nature of a part of the world . Human beings are much the same, and to give a recognisable face to this unknown part of the planet is itself an achievement. We see the people at work tilling the fields, sharing meals and robust poverty, cracking jokes, fetching water. We see the infinite tenderness of the mother. The father is temperamental, sometimes angry, sometimes disappointed  in his son , sometimes proud and sometimes violent. The  speech rhythms are very different. The instrument-less songs and the colorful dance are a perfect accompaniment. Finally, there is a section in which  history and hopes are recited as a long and impassioned  ballad. Packs anthropology, history and heart.

The human drama of the two friends and their families in the background of harsh communal memories comes across poignantly.  The characters are human beings for whom we learn to care in the course of the movie.

This is the kind of art which can help in bridging gulfs and inspiring hope instead of nourishing despair.

Roger Ebert's review 

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