While under the occupation of Islamists, the city of Timbuktu citizens live very unbalanced lives. Kidane is a farmer and cattle driver who lives on the outskirts. He sees the horror of theocracy everyday as the occupying force restricts everything from music, football and dance. Couples are stoned to death for talking outside together, a woman is lashed for singing a song and a fisher woman is forced to wear gloves. Kidane has 8 cattle and when one is killed by a local fisherman, he takes action. He challenges him and in the struggle kills the fisherman. The Islamists find the body and search for the culprit. Kidane is found walking back and is arrested. Now he is to be tried and the ultimate sentence is going to be applied.
I am about to say something on the subject I love. Cinema is a gift to humanity. I say this because it enables people from a country that is literally a thousand miles away from another but still identify with it.Think this film takes a current political issue, that of Islamic fundamentalism in the horn of Africa and gives it very considered thought. You can connect with everything going on and directly to the people involved. This is because at our very core we are human beings and we link our humanity with each other. Still with me? Well I see it like this. Any human story connects to the basic humanity of a person, people and society. This is irrelevant of global position or region. Timbuktu is such a film. A deeply human story meditating on three universal topics. Fear of the other, absent of empathy and repression.
The performances are the main reason for all of the above emotional states. All the performances are exceptional but one in particular is outstanding. Ibrahim Ahmed dit Pinto as Kidane is unbelievable. He has such grace and humility as to be magical. He bears his soul as a man condemned and walking the narrow path to the end. This is not the only character played so well but his performance is amazing. Combined with the compositions at key scenes. These are dreamlike but have such a depth of space and shape as to leave the viewer in a state of harmony. One thing I have to point out here is that it rejects the use by classic editing. That is the longer scenes at the start and then shorter at the end. It also rejects the art house, long scenes all the way through. Instead we have longer scenes in the middle and shorter at the start. These actually hold the attention and the anticipation. The flight scene is amazing in its use of this. Abderrahmane Sissako is an amazing director and one that hopefully will make much more of his talent.
The DVD is an excellent transfer. The tones of cinematography are given fine treatment due to this. The extras are limited but then the film is such a beautiful piece of cinema that you will not mind. Buy it, Buy it, Buy it….