Thursday, September 13, 2012

757. Yeelen/Brightness (1987)

Running Time: 105 minutes
Directed By: Souleymane Cisse
Written By: Souleymane Cisse
Main Cast: Issiaka Kane, Aoua Sangare, Niamanto Sanogo, Balla Moussa Keita, Soumba Traore


It's such a shame that after celebrating three years on the blog, that I have to follow it up with such an atrocious movie, however, a man's gotta' do what a man's gotta' do. "Yeelen" has been sitting on the side of my desk for the past week and I kind of new that it was going to be a chore to get through and man did I hit the boring nail right on it's boring head.

The film begins with what looks like a rooster being burned, hanging upside down from some ceremonial pole. It's actually quite the startling image and actually, for just a moment, got me excited to watch this movie. I figured, hey, what a unique way to grab the viewer's attention and that maybe there was hope. I was wrong. From there, the plot sinks into a more supernatural setting, dealing with magicians, sacrificing to the Gods, spirits, spells and curses. I had a hard time following what exactly was going on, but the meat and potatoes of the story deals with a vengeful father (Sanogo) looking for his son. He prays and pleads to the Gods to show him the way to his son, so that he may kill him. His son is Niankoro (Kane), a young man who with powers comparable to those of his father's. Niankoro leaves behind his mother to flee from his father and along the way encounters various characters, including a King who wishes Niankoro to cure his barren wife, so that she may produce him a son. Instead Niankoro, that dog, sleeps with the King's wife and the two end up being exiled together. Apparently the film is one of the best African films to ever be made, which is a fact that I have a hard time buying considering how unbelievably boring it is.

I'll keep things short & sweet. This was a clear cut case of knowing I wasn't going to like this movie and being absolutely right. For starters, the supernatural and things of that sort aren't up my alley and this film was riddled with that sort of thing, something that I just couldn't get into. Beyond that, the film just wasn't that interesting and I was more interested in watching the clock, counting down the seconds until this tripe would end, so that I could put it behind me. Oh and while I'm ripping this movie a new one, let me put out a plea to everyone involved in the production of DVDs: Please, I beg of you, use YELLOW for your subtitles. White subtitles are illegible when put against a bright background and guess what? This film is called "Brightness" so there are lots of instances where the subtitles are impossible to decipher. I hate to be picky, but I like to understand what it is I'm watching, despite the fact that this movie was nearly undecipherable on it's own. There's not a lot of dialogue and even when the characters do speak, it's nothing poignant or gripping. The characters themselves aren't interesting and there doesn't seem to be any depth to the story. Lets just call that a review and I'll thank the heavens that this one is behind me.

RATING: 1.5/10  I'll give it a little something since the ending kept my eyes off the clock and on the screen for a few minutes, but ultimately this is another injustice of an inclusion.


September  13, 2012  4:12pm


  1. Well, I finally caught up with this one,, Number 7, now counting down.
    OK.. mmmm. I certainly wouldn't use the word 'atrocious'. I thought it was well made and fantastic photography.
    I would have love a commentary track.. or at least an introduction, because I spent a long time not following what was going on.
    A pause, and a read up helped..
    Opinions were divided as to WHEN it was set.. anything from 1300's to the 1600's.. OK, that helped to know. It is a well known (in Mali) folk tale about magic and wizardry.. I needed to know that.. So the magic was 'real'. OK, thank you.. that stopped it being just plain weird.
    Things picked up with that context in place..and I started to enjoy large bits of it as i pieced together what was going on.
    But by the end I was still 'clock watching' and that is not good.
    It is, however, still lingering in the mind.. something many other fail to do.
    (There have been films you have posted, and I've gone "I've not seen that.. it's not in my edition" - only to check and find out, yes I have seen it, and only a year ago too..)
    No serious committed comment or score until I have let it settle a while..

  2. PS.
    Absolutely agree about subtitles... yellow is good, but I have seen black in a white box, or white letter edged with a black border.
    This is not the worst.. Wages of fear was, on my copy, by far the worst I have ever seen...

    1. Thanks for the comments here Ray and it's good to see you back. I remember this one, but still remember it as being very difficult to get through. Perhaps that's better than not remembering it at all.


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