La Genèse (Genesis)

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Movie Info

The Bible's Book of Genesis is given a new spin by director Cheik Oumar Sissoko in his film La Genèse/Genesis, which recasts a famous story by relocating it in the nation of Mali and using a cast of African actors. Covering chapters 23 through 37, in which the world is reborn after the great flood, Esau (Salif Keita) has his birthright stolen by his brother Jacob (Sotigui Kouyate) in exchange for a plate of beans. Esau plots revenge against Jacob, who is lost in grief after the death of his beloved son Joseph. When Jacob's daughter announces she wishes to marry the son of Hamor the Canaanite, his brothers insist the Canaanites must be circumcised. After the surgery is performed, however, one of Jacob's sons launches an attack on the men, still weakened from the mutilation. To Jacob's horror, soon every male in the village is dead. Esau later makes peace with Jacob when he informs him Joseph is not dead, but has been sold as a slave to wealthy men in Egypt, where the brothers then travel together to reclaim him. Combining an accurate interpretation of the Biblical story with relevant allusions to African history and culture, La Genèse/Genesis was enthusiastically received when it was screened in the "Un Certain Regard" series at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival.

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