Yeelen (1987)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBB.5

Alternate title:  Brightness

Mali/Burkina Faso/France/West Germany/United Kingdom, 1987.  Atriascop Paris, Burkina Faso Ministry of Life and Culture, Centre National de la Cinématographie, French Ministry of Cooperation and Development, French Ministry of Foriegn Affairs, Les Films Cissé, Les Films du Carrosse, Mali Government, Midas, Ministère de la Culture de la Republique Française, Westdeutscher Rundfunk.  Screenplay by Souleymane Cisse.  Cinematography by , .  Produced by Souleymane Cisse.  Music by , .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by Kossy Mody Keita.  Film Editing by , , , , , , .  

This stunning film’s title, which means brightness, refers to the hot African sun that lords over the wide open expanses of desert. It’s a tale of a young man who goes in search of his uncle to help protect him and his mother from his father’s wrath. His father is following a spiritual mission and has decided to kill his son, prompting the boy to find ways to protect himself. Told with a sense of magic realism and using local folklore, it suffers from an obscure ending but is otherwise enchanting. The photography is especially memorable.

Cannes Film Festival Award:  Jury Prize (tie)

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