Day 318: ‘Mory and Anta want to go to Paris’ 2018

Day 318
Monday 14 May 2018
‘Mory and Anta Want to Go to Paris’   2018

Touki Bouki  (1973)

Top 100 Films Ever Made –
This film is equal #93 in the 2012 BFI Critics Poll and #132 in the Directors Poll (5 votes).

This unusual and bizarre film (written and directed by Djibril Diop Mambéty) is one of those entries in the Top 100 Films Ever which makes me close my eyes, think, and open them again, none-the-wiser. It is certainly like nothing I have seen before and is, as far as I know, the first Senegalese film I have ever seen. It could well be the best Senegalese film ever made.

Mory and Anta are two people who live in Senegal in a world of poverty with no hope of bettering themselves, until the come up with idea that they could better themselves, by dreaming or giving themselves the hope of hope. It’s a film that my brain tells me simultaneously, is nothing and amazing. It’s got nothing to say, and yet, it has everything to say. It’s incredible because it was made on a tiny – miniscule – budget and still has production values – such as scenes containing actors – and yet it is so slight in what it has as a storyline, that it’s like someone has just pointed a camera and pressed RECORD and told a few people, “Just do something. Anything. Stand on one leg on the sand and make poses.” It’s as if afterwards, in post-production, the director has tried to make some kind of sense out of the footage he has available. And if that is the case, it also makes it a bold, daring and brave little film.

There’s nothing wrong with pointing a camera at people and recording what they do and stitching it together later. The people in the film have very little of financial value. The director probably has very little of value. If Mambéty has enough money to point a camera and film the things that surround him and edit it together, it’s not very different to how Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point felt. It followed a boy and a girl around, doing nothing – just being. There’s not a lot of difference, except for the budget.

For me, the most impressive aspect is the Cinéma vérité (realistic) style. It’s extraordinary to see the parade through the streets, the herders at work, the town, the people, the children, the animals, and people killing and gutting animals as if it is everyday behaviour.

Which it is!