Touki Bouki (Journey of the Hyena) - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Touki Bouki (Journey of the Hyena) Reviews

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½ May 23, 2008
I read somewhere that this film's thought to be Africa's first avant-garde film, and I find this tag incredibly problematic, not just because the impossibility of applying such a tag to any film but also because it's more precisely a film very much in tradition of the New Wave movements blowing up across the globe at the time. However, it should be pointed out that Djibril Diop Mamb├ęty's film isn't really derivative in any way but really strikes out on its own to get at familiar social messages. The essential plot concerns a lower class couple in Senegal who want to get to France, assuming that life will improve dramatically with a change of scenery. They decide to steal their way onto a ship and to make their way away from their native country. Of course, that doesn't get at perhaps the film's key distinguishing factor: that it's hilarious yet deadpan serious almost constantly. That's not to say that Mamb├ęty panders for laughs. Perhaps the most impressive thing about his direction and screenplay is that all of the humor and details that sell the thing come from the social criticism. For example, the couple decides to steal clothes from a wealthy man because the ports are essentially ran in a way that a disguise is necessary! This notion paves the way for a moment in which the couple meets up with a potential escapee who wants them to hide him so that he can escape a man he owes money to who, naturally, sits next to the ports and looks out for him. In the end, the story becomes one of the couples' desire to escape Senegal. The man, Mory, drives a motorbike with a bull's horns mounted upon it. Considering that the opening scene is a group of cows being led to the slaughterhouse, I'm not sure whether the horns are meant to indicate the similarity of Mory's position to the cows or perhaps his ability to transcend it. After all, the bull fights back before it's slaughtered. In this sense, Mory's independence and his utilization of such a symbolic structure on the motorbike suggests that he fights his situation, that of an oppressed African facing huge gaps between domestic rich and poor and even larger chasms between the African natives and the white colonizers. Inexplicably and hilariously, when Mory is about to leave the continent, his motorcycle is taken over by a caveman! Using the framework described previously, the second owner's primitive subhuman nature indicates what I think is Mamb├ęty's central theory: that because the economic situation is so dire for Senegal's citizens, they think that jumping ship, if you will, to another, more symbolically successful country is the only way to rise. The centrality of the watered horizon to earlier scenes of the couple making love emphasizes again and again that wish to escape. In the end though, the answer is left a little less clear for the characters. What's more important in a shot with the post-coital couple in the foreground and the sea in the background? The possibility for success abroad or the reproduction and furthering of the country here? Of course, there's a lot more to the question itself. Perhaps the most famous and most well-crafted and thought out sequence comes as the couple ride in bourgeois clothes on the back of an automobile and look down upon relatives who, hours before, were trying to get them to pay back loaned money. The scene's hilarious yet, as I said, biting in its resonance. Clearly, Mamb├ęty sees all too clear how funny and simultaneously dire these questions can be, and that, as I said, is his chief strength in this nearly flawless work. **** and 1/2 * out've *****
May 15, 2008
when I grow up, I am making films for his memory... having met him, I am certain of my story...
May 4, 2008
Interesting, but a little too interesting for me.
May 3, 2008
Pretty great, actually. I'm not sure I'd have liked it as much without the discussion afterward, but its greatness is sinking in.
April 12, 2008
Great film, what the New Wave would have been if anybody but Varda (and occassionally Godard) had anything to say. Much better and intense than most films you will find.
½ March 16, 2008
only 4% of users want to see a quinessential and important film about the effects of african colonialism? well, people like transformers too but hey, they are morons. ANYWAY, i was suprised at the relative fast pace of the film and though the ending is a bit confusing, it does make a strong pro-africa statement. a good primer for those who are interested in the riverwood movement.
½ February 14, 2008
Un film africain que personne ne verra. C'est dommage. C'est du Godard a Dakar.
½ February 7, 2008
This 1973 film from Senegal is a tribute to the anit-colonialism and the strive for independence in Africa. An interesting and worthwhile watch.
November 14, 2007
This film is great, a must see for all low budget filmmakers and all African film makers.
October 27, 2007
The opening scene of this film is a must-see to all meat-eaters! ;-)
October 14, 2007
a challenging, but rewarding african film. mabety touches on a lot of things i think about when contemplating american society, and clearly he feels the same about the bourgieouse and our races fundamental needs to strike a dicshord with the harmony of our home planet.
October 10, 2007
I think it is difficult for many to see this film and not make a great deal of comparisons to other films with big budgets etc...Plus there are so many allegories to African rituals and life that if you are not clued in on these details, one might not get the underlying themes that run through this film... I love this movie because I really herald it as one of the most interesting and unusual films produced by an African fillmmaker...
½ August 15, 2007
All directors copy styles as they learn their craft. Here, Mambety mimics the style of French new wave auteur, Jean-Luc Godard. It's a decent enough film. Nothing groundbreaking or terribly exciting but interesting even if only because it's a Senagalese film from the 70's
June 19, 2007
this is one of the greatest pictures of all time
½ June 1, 2007
A load of steaming crap! Mambety was heralded for making a fantastic film, but to be perfectly honest he merely copied French and Italian styles and I was forced to sit through this nonsense!
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