Camp de Thiaroye (1990) - Rotten Tomatoes

Camp de Thiaroye (1990)





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Writer/directors Ousmane Sembene and Thiermo Faty Sow based Camp de Thiaroye on their own experiences. During the French/Algerian war, a group of black soldiers fight on the side of France. But when hostilities cease, they are detained by their own government in the titular prison camp before being sent home. While incarcerated, they begin to wonder if their cause -- actually their country's cause -- is truly worth it. Camp de Thiaroye was jointly financed by sources from Senegal, Algeria and Tunisia. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi


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In 1944, African soldiers are assigned to a camp on their way to being repatriated to their native countries. Sergeant Major Aloise Diatta(Ibrahima Sane) is looking forward to returning to France where he can resume his studies and reunite with his wife and daughter. When Captain Raymond(Jean-Daniel Simon) tries to greet Diatta's family, he is shunned, due to a massacre by French army troops that destroyed much of Diatta's village. In the camp, it does not take long for things to turn sour, as the African soldiers complain about the unedible food. When they do not get immediate action, they do the sensible thing and order out while Diatta goes to town to get a drink. While badly in need of better characterization, "Camp de Thiaroye" builds through a slow boil to an unforgettable climax. And even though one should always be very, very careful when making parallels to the Nazis(which this film does), here I think it applies not only to the incident that is based on a true event, but also to other travesties and atrocities committed by colonial authorities that only begin with the maltreatment of soldiers who risked their lives in Europe and redbaiting, not only in Senegal but also in Algeria around the same time. Out of such loss of life, you can see the first seeds of the independence movement which would in short order take hold and transform these countries.

Walter M.
Walter M.

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