DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
GUIMBA THE TYRANT (Guimba, un tyrant une époque) (director/writer: Cheick Sissoko; cinematographer: Lionel Cousin; editors: Kahena Attia/Joëlle Dufour; music: Michel Risse/Pierre Sauvageot; cast: Falabo Issa Traore (Guimba), Moussa Keita (Mambi Bala), Habib Dembele (Sambou, the Griot), Lamine Diallo (Janguine), Mouneissa Maiga (Kani), Maimouna Hélène Diarra (Meya), Cheick Oumar Maiga (Siriman); Runtime: 120; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Idrissa Ouedraogo; Kino International; 1995-Mali/France/Germany-in French with English subtitles)

 
"The colorful costumes are an eyeful."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The political satire by West African filmmaker Cheick Sissoko is a combination of fantasy, allegory, folklore and Greek tragedy. It takes place in a mythical African place called Sitakili before colonization, but in reality the location draws close parallels to Sissoko's native homeland of Mali. Sitakili is a prosperous ochre looking village featuring mud palaces, and is ruled by the despotic tyrant Guimba Dunbuya who spends his day lazily coddled by many servants. He has taught his evil, lustful and spoiled dwarf son Jangine to always treat his subjects cruelly. From birth Jangine is betrothed to the beautiful Kani, but when he meets her voluptuous married mother Meya he tells his father he must marry her because he loves big women with big rumps. Guimba's solution to this problem is simple: Since his son wants to marry the mother, he marries the beautiful daughter and he banishes the mother's husband. We have a Saddam Hussein situation here, and Guimba flogs his disobedient subjects and he further announces that he will castrate any future suitors of Kani. Guimba has already murdered his wife and daughter because they disobeyed his authority. Nevertheless, despite his tyrannical decree the town revolts. It boils down to the evil sorcerer Guimba using black magic against the forces of good represented by the magician/hunter Siriman.

In the tradition of Western African tales a griot, storyteller, relates the events, telling of the magic spell that put an end to Guimba and his repressive rule. The colorful costumes are an eyeful, as are the tantalizing African women with their big rumps. It is worth seeing the film, just to see the unbelievable costumes and big rumps swaying in the breeze. The film is a political parody of the reign of terror that took place in Mali, a tragedy which came to an end in 1991. Its main problem is that the story is told in a muddled fashion and the events are blurred by repetition and fuzzy photography.

REVIEWED ON 3/14/2004        GRADE: C +

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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