Yeelen (Brightness) (1987)

Yeelen (Brightness)


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Movie Info

Filmed in the African country of Mali, Yeelen (Brightness) weaves several Kenyan folk stories into an engaging framework. The hero is a young boy whose father is an evil magician. Marked for death by his long-absent papa, the boy bids goodbye to his mother and heads for the hills. En route to his kindly uncle, our hero utilizes his own conjuring skills for the benefit of those less fortunate than himself; he also rescues a king from being deposed. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Rating: R
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Art House & International
Directed By:
In Theaters:
On DVD: Oct 28, 2003



as Nianankoro

as Attou la jeune femme...

as Rouma Boll the king ...

as Mah the mother

as Bofing l'oncle

as Le petit garcon d'At...

as Le chef de Komo
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Yeelen (Brightness)

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (3)

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | August 30, 2004
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

Like many stories of creation, Yeelen begins with light: the sun rises over a barren West African landscape.

Full Review… | May 17, 2004
Not Coming to a Theater Near You

A visually spellbinding masterpiece.

Full Review… | December 17, 2003
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

It's a sign of true genius that a director can summon the rise, fall and subsequent rebirth of the cosmos with such a profound understanding and respect for the shape of things.

Full Review… | September 21, 2003
Slant Magazine

Audience Reviews for Yeelen (Brightness)


[font=Century Gothic]In "Yeelen", Niankoro(Issiaka Kane) and his mother(Soumba Traore) have been on the run from his father, Soma(Niamanto Sanogo), for the past ten years. But now he is quickly closing in.(Niankoro, now a young man, is like his father, a wizard.) Partially out of desperation, his mother formulates a plan where her and her son are to split up. While she petitions help from higher powers, she gives him a fetish and glass pyramid to give to his uncle, so he can reconcile father and son.[/font]
[font=Century Gothic][/font]
[font=Century Gothic]"Yeelen" is a resplendently spiritual movie about the world changing which is personified in the conflict between father and son. Soma perhaps rightfully fears his son becoming more powerful than him and taking his place, and seeks to stop his ascension. In the meantime, Niankoro has power but not quite the knowledge of the world to go along with it.[/font]

Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Yeelen is a magical tale full of the rich history of Mali brought very effectively to life given the inevitably small budget. It is the earliest film that I have seen for the region and was inevitably the inspiration for other film makers from Northwest Africa.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

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