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Black Girl/Borom Sarret (1966)

Anne-Marie Jelinek , Robert Fontaine , Ousmane Sembene  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

Price: $29.95 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Anne-Marie Jelinek, Robert Fontaine, Mbissine Therese Diop
  • Directors: Ousmane Sembene
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: New Yorker
  • DVD Release Date: November 22, 2005
  • Run Time: 80 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000A59PNI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,055 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Black Girl/Borom Sarret" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Diouana (Mbissine Thérèse Diop) is a stranger in a strange land. In Dakar, she was a nanny--a job she found fulfilling--but is forced to leave when her employers, Madame (Anne-Marie Jelinek) and Monsieur (Robert Fontaine), relocate to Antibes. The Riviera is lovely, but she is demoted to maid and regularly reminded of her exotic origins--treated as an object and exploited for her "Africanness." Proud and impassive, Diouana rarely speaks, but a running monologue reveals her growing disillusionment. "The kitchen, the bathroom, the bedroom, the living room. That's all I do. That's not what I came to France for!" So Diouana revolts the only way she knows how and stops doing everything for which she was taken from Senegal--cooking, cleaning, etc. Based on his short story, in turn inspired by actual events, Black Girl was the first feature from Ousmane Sembène (Faat Kiné), the premier filmmaker of Sub-Saharan Africa. Though shot in a crude new wave style, the 60-minute film (also released in a 70-minute edition), effectively delineates the life of an unseen individual with no means of solace or escape. Interestingly, all parts were dubbed by other actors, contributing to the sense of alienation--even between Madame and Monsieur, who were also happier in Dakar. Black Girl (La Noire de...) is accompanied by Sembène's 1963 debut, Borom Sarret. The 20-minute short offers an insightful look at a day in the life of a Dakar-based horse-cart driver (Ly Abdoulaye) or borom sarrett (from the French bonhomme charret). --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two tragic tales April 11, 2007
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The less horrifying among the two films, "Borom sarret", shows one day in a life of a horse cart driver. He gets into trouble for driving into the white neighborhood, cheated by a wealthy black man who abandons him. This is the story of the powerless masses who were the victims of the European colonizers and their black collaborators, after colonization was officially over.

"Black Girl" is the tragic story of a pretty Senegalese woman who discovers the reality of racist exploitation in a most vicious manner. Like the "borom Sarret" cart driver, she is completely powerless, but moving to France takes away the little family protection she had in Senegal. In France, she is a "non-person", and this realisation is too much for her. There are millions of "Black Girls", men and women, who were forced to leave Africa and serve as the tree choppers and water bearers of the West. This ongoing crime is largely unnoticed by the affluent society, who only takes notice when "riots erupt" in the poor slums.

Sembene's movies should be given as much exposure as possible, in the hope of waking people up to this modern day slavery.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unforgettable Images in La Noire de... August 14, 2006
By khense
I saw this film 40 years ago.It still burns in my mind.Diouana, a nice girl from a poor country,wants a better life,which she believes will be"En France." She has only the vaguest idea what's in store for her & does not understand the value of what she leaves behind-including her boyfriend-a nice guy.En France, Diouana's employers mean well, however they eventually have to face that Diouana has given up but cannot go home. Images of a clean bathtub after a suicide, the boyfriend's photo in a suitcase, the child & the mask - will never go away.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Cinematography and Dialogue September 1, 2006
"Black Girl" and "Borom Sarret" depict Senegal after independence. "Black Girl" tells the story of Diuoanne, an African, with dreams of going to France to escape her poor neighborhood in Dakar. When she arrives in France, her dreams of the beautiful city Antibes is a nightmare. Madame is a plantation mistress who treats her like property rather than an adult. She finds fault with everything she does. Diouanne is a prisoner in another country with no chance of exploring the city. Feeling deprived of her self-worth, she takes the mask that she has given to them because it is the only thing that reminds her of her homeland.

"Borom Sarret" is a story of a family man who earns a living driving a cart. Life is rough where he lives, but he is proud of who he is and where he comes from. On the other side, the city is filled with buildings and cars on the street. It is more modern than where he is living. However, modernity has its price and he sees it for what it is.

Both short films portray the optimism and disappointment post-colonial independence for the African people. Sembene gives a riveting picture of intra- and interracial relations; the economic struggle; and social expectations of Africa and Africans. This is a great movie to watch and discuss with among peers as to how it has changed for the better or for the worse.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movies - Two of them October 2, 2005
Black Girl is as the previous reviewer described it. Barom Sarret is a different movie from a year before. It is shorter than La Noire De.... It is cruder, but more succinct, and, I believe, superior to Black Girl. Both movies are excellent, and worthy of purchase, that they appear together on one disc is particularly generous.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must See!! July 5, 2009
A wonderful look at Senegal, racism, and colonization, done through symbolism and language.
Everyone should see this film!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Note: This review only covers "Borom Sarret". Ousmane Sembene creates a sympathetic character who is down on his luck in post-Colonial Senegal. The donkey-cart driver simply wants to earn enough money to feed his family at the end of the day but customers who are too poor to pay him and parasitic foreigners and their colonial collaborators cause him to lose his cart and all his money over the course of a day. Even the little he has left, his pride in his heritage and ancestors, cause him nothing but financial ruination. The donkey cart driver himself speaks in the voice over narration with a dripping cynicism about the current state of Senegal and the effect modernization has had on the country and its people. The ending is left open to interpretation. Overall this is a realistic and cynical portrait of Senegal just after colonization and should not be missed.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars So far, a review of Black Girl only. March 29, 2012
<strong>La Noire de...</strong> (Ousmane Sembene, 1966)

<em>La Noire de...</em>, released in English-speaking countries as <em>Black Girl</em>, was the first feature released by Senegalese director Ousmane Sembene, and is considered to be the first feature released by a black director from sub-Saharan Africa. (Whether it's a feature or a short is debatable; IMDB lists the running time at sixty-five minutes, but the print I saw was fifty-seven.) As such, it has come under intense scrutiny in the almost half-decade since its release. It is also, I doubt coincidentally, often mentioned as one of the best movies ever made (I don't have access to my collection of thousand-best lists at present, though I can tell you with a quick Internet search it appears on Rosenbaum's 1000 Essential Films list and Piero Scaruffi's 1000 Best Films of All Time). From what I've seen, it may be the most contentious film to appear on such a list. I have an hypothesis on that, which I'll get into later.

Plot: Diouana (Mbissine Thérése Diop, in her only film role) is a young Senegalese woman hired by a French family (known in the film only as Madame, played by Anne-Marie Jelinek in her only film appearance, and Monsieur, the first role for <em>Emitaï</em>'s Robert Fontaine) as a caretaker for their children. They are satisfied enough with her performance that they invite her to continue in that capacity in France. She goes with them, and pretty much as soon as they step off the plane, attitudes change: they begin treating her more as a maid than as a nanny, which leads to understandable resentment on Diouanna's part. This leads to an escalating cycle of tensions between Madame and Diouanna.
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