1993, Movie, NR, 115 mins


With the release of GUELWAAR, his seventh feature and first outing since 1987's CAMP DE THIAROYE, the renowned Senegalese filmmaker Ousmane Sembene reconfirms his stature both as a master storyteller and a distinctively humanitarian artist.

Pierre Henri Thioune (Thierno Ndiaye), called Guelwaar--or Noble One--by his family and friends, has died under mysterious circumstances, leaving behind his grieving wife, Nogoy Marie (Mame Ndoumbe Diop); their daughter Sophie (Marie-Augustine Diatta), who toils as a prostitute in Dakar; and their two sons, Barthelemy (Ndiawar Diop) and Aloys (Mustapha Diop). Funeral proceedings are delayed, however, by the unaccountable disappearance of Guelwaar's corpse from the local morgue. When policeman Gora (Omar Seck) goes in search of the missing body, he finds himself in the midst of a bitter dispute between local Christians and Muslims.

Despite its languorous pace and folkloric quality, GUELWAAR reflects a hugely sophisticated sensibility, frequently diverging from the central story to include illuminating flashbacks, digressions, and soliloquies. Among the many contemporary issues Sembene touches upon--the loss of traditions, AIDS, the spread of corruption--the film offers a scathing indictment of the neocolonialism that permeates West African society. leave a comment

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