Africa Speaks Reasoning Forum

ENTERTAINMENT/ ARTS/ LITERATURE => Arts & Music => Topic started by: Bantu_Kelani on September 26, 2004, 01:36:03 AM

Title: African Cinema: KARMEN GEI
Post by: Bantu_Kelani on September 26, 2004, 01:36:03 AM



. Musical drama. 2002
. Not rated. 82 minutes
. Directed and written by Joseph Gai Ramaka
. Starring Djeinaba Diop Gai, Magaye Niang, Stephanie Biddle,Thierno Ndiaye Dos, Djeynaba Niang and El Hadji N'diaye.
. In French and Wolof with English subtitles.  

Linked in the public consciousness to composer Georges Bizet, "Carmen" is probably the most famous opera in the world. With "Karmen Gei," director Joseph Gai Ramaka has set the story in his native Senegal, replaced the music and choreography with African beats and moves, and created a bisexual Carmen who may be the most magnetic, most beautiful and bravest Carmen ever to grace a stage or film set.

Actress Djeinaba Diop Gai pulsates with joie de vivre as the rebellious woman who seduces the warden of her prison, engineers the rescue of a jailed suitor, publicly belittles Senegal's police corps and leads an idealistic gang of smugglers. (Her character is named Karmen, not Carmen, perhaps to differentiate her from all the previous incarnations of this operatic figure.)

Gai's Karmen has an infectious sense of humor, which she uses to diffuse the men who are incredulous that such a striking woman can overpower them. The film's levity (some of the scenes are almost campy) and playful, spirited musical score make this version of "Carmen" even more unusual. American jazz saxophonist David Murray composed the songs, which feature some of Senegal's great performers, including singer El Hadji N'diaye, who also has a role in the film.

The movie is not without its flaws, among them Gai's singing voice, which doesn't have the pitch or power of, say, N'diaye's. But there is so much working for "Karmen Gei" -- including the scenes of Goree Island, where millions of slaves were first taken centuries ago; the colorful African fabrics that are worn by the women prisoners; and the portrayal of Karmen Gei as a kind of superhero to the downtrodden -- that the film becomes an overwhelming pleasure, and you find yourself rooting for Gai's character to avoid the fate that has befallen every other Carmen before her.

This film contains violence, nudity and sex scenes.

Jonathan Curiel

Title: Re: African Cinema: KARMEN GEI
Post by: Bantu_Kelani on September 26, 2004, 03:32:44 AM
I watched the film "Karmen Gei" several times already, and each times it has pleased me deeply. In my view, this film is about empowering the powerful feminine force that resides within each woman with African ancestry. In this film, the beautiful and talented actress Djeinaba Diop Gai portrays a fearless Karmen who is unconventional in her sexuality. She portrays the character really wild also, making this African Carmen expressing herself in a raw manner even if it is not always pleasant. Of course the character "Karmen Gei" is familiar to me. It has a great emotive power for me mainly because it connects me with my own wild personality. It seems however I am not the only such a feminist. Many black women are confident, sassy and bold.

In fact, black women are the most resilient members of the human race, because of the atrocities that were committed against black people during slavery and post-modern society, black women have learned to be creative and strong. To reword Maya Angelou, "when you try to keep us down, stilt we rise". Everyday, I see their fine character raising another generation of black children. Too many are on their own as a single black parents though. They have been forced by history and social conditions to be both mother and father outside the bonds of matrimony. From my standpoint, this powerful female presence in black women, that is fearless and independent with an intense sensuality and knowledge, is particularly beneficial for the fundamental changes in black people position, because strong black women are pioneers, militants, revolutionaries and demonstrate real African qualities.

Unfortunately, strong black females are often condemned for their warrior energy, powers and seductive presence. I suppose the cause could be for the reason that some of them are controlling women. But, it has turn out that this negative reaction to strong black females has made a lot of black men giving up on dating/marring many of these sisters. Whether any brother admits it or not, some who date weak or white women are simply seeking the obedient, trusting wife. Their servant possibly, so he can remain on the superior position. Perhaps, I'm being overly emotional on this one, but often it does seem as if black men act with such hostility towards confident black women. But, in a white man's racist society shouldn't black women be strong?