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14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The final film from African cinema's founding father, Ousmane Sembene, MOOLAADE is a potent polemic directed against the still-common practice of female circumcision. Though the subject matter may seem weighty, this buoyant film is anything but - Sembene places the action amid a colorful, vibrant tapestry of village life, employing an imaginative array of emblematic metaphors, mythic overtones, and spirited songs. MOOLAADE reinforces the strong feminist consciousness that marked his earlier classics FAAT KINE, BLACK GIRL, and CEDDO. In a small village, four young girls facing ritual 'purification' flee to the household of Collé Ardo Gallo Sy, a strong-willed woman who has managed to shield her own teenage daughter from mutilation. Collé invokes the time-honored custom of moolaadé (sanctuary) to protect the fugitives. Tension mounts as the ensuing stand-off pits Collé against village traditionalists (both male and female) endangering her daughter's prospective marriage to the heir-apparent to the tribal throne.

A sharp critic of the internal problems of modern Africa, but also a passionate advocate of African pride and autonomy, Sembene's fiery spirit will live on beyond the stand-up-and-cheer finale.

Voted Best Foreign Film of the Year by the National Society of Film Critics and the following publications all selected MOOLAADE as One of the Ten Best Films of the Year: New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Sun-Times, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, Philadelphia Inquirer, Washington Post, Boston Globe, LA Weekly, Dallas Morning News, Chicago Tribune, The Village Voice, Houston Chronicle.

DVD Details: Senegal, 2004, 124 minutes, Color, Region 1, NTSC, Widescreen presentation: Enhanced for 16x9 TVs/Letterboxed for 4x3, Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0, In Jula (a dialect of Bambara) and French with optional English subtitles; scene selections. Special Features: A 2-disc set; Featurette: Making of MOOLAADE; Sembene: Portrait of a Filmmaker; footage from the film's African premiere in Burkina Faso; interviews with director Ousmane Sembene and three actresses; interviews with activists in Burkina Faso who speak about female genital mutilation (FGM); promotional film for FORWARD, a U.K. NGO leading the fight against FGM; theatrical trailer; and a 16-page booklet.


A Critic's Pick: 'POWERFUL! A masterpiece of political filmmaking.' ---A.O. Scott, THE NEW YORK TIMES

'BRILLIANT [and] BEAUTIFUL. Two thumbs up!' ---Roger Ebert, EBERT & ROEPER

'This GREAT work of art has the potential to change the world. GRADE: A.' ---Lisa Schwarzbaum, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors:  Maimouna Hélène Diarra, Salimata Traoré Fatoumata Coulibaly
  • Directors: Ousmane Sembene
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: New Yorker
  • DVD Release Date: December 11, 2007
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000WOSAU6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,968 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Moolaadé" on IMDb

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Nate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 8, 2007
Format: DVD
It is often assumed that traditional, tribal ways of life are incapable of change, unable to respond and adapt both to external pressures and internal development. In this extraordinary film, Ousmane Sembene, one of the great masters of African cinema, illustrates ways in which tribal law is responsive to and can address on its own terms the wrongs that some traditional practices can inflict upon its members.

Three young girls, afraid to take part in the traditional ritual of female castration (or female genital mutilation, to call a spade a spade), go to an older woman in the tribe and request her protection, or Moolade, a tradition that is recognized and honored by the tribe. She agrees, and places ritual barriers at the entrance of her home to keep out those who insist that the children must comply, at least until the matter can be resolved. The conflicts that ensue, and the way in which these conflicts come to be resolved, shows Sembene's humanist respect for the traditions of Africa, and his rejection of the colonialist assumption that fairness requires the rejection of traditional life in favor of some allegedly universal principles of ethics. The individuals who take part in these conflicts are not without their flaws and can be very stubborn, but the ways of life they represent remain vital and rich and worthy and cannot simply be rejected because they include practices that ought to be abandoned. (Some of "our" practices -- however far one might think the "us" extends -- ought also to be abandoned. And "we" also can be stubborn and flawed. Sembene's is a deeply humanist portrait of a vital culture, flaws and all.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By R. Gawlitta on March 2, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The late Ousmane Sembene's last film continued his effort to make the public aware of the African "condition", from a respectful, first-hand sensibiity. The subject of female genital mutilation (FGM) has rarely been addressed, and it's important for people to realize that the practice is still a reality. It's a cultural tradition, that really has no basis in religion, but rather in the male society that first suggested it, before the time of Christ (hence, Islam wasn't even around). My first exposure to this controversy was back in the early '90's, from an article in Reader's Digest, written by a world-famous fashion model who had undergone this barbaric practice. Her explanation was that women are not allowed to experience sexual pleasure, and she was led to believe this was dictated by God. Her suffering after the procedure was heartbreaking, and I've never forgotten her tragic, very well-written essay. "Moolaade" is important, on many levels. Previous reviewers have covered a lot, but it wasn't mentioned that, at the end, the women rose up, and the heir-apparent to the village leadership ultimately told his father that he would choose his own wife. It's about changing traditions, individuality, dignity and self-respect. Sembene's use of color, and a dash of humor here and there, make this powerful (though unpleasant) theme easier to digest. The 2-disc DVD is as good as they come, rife with extras about the filming, interviews with Mr. Sembene, and terrific insight into the efforts to eliminate the unnecessary practice of FGM. There are always articles and films about atrocities happening throughout the world; it's often overwhelming. With his small, important film, Sembene has used his multi-talent abilities to present a riveting wake-up call to just another such atrocity, one that, with even an ounce of education, is quite obviously dangerous, unnecessary, and preventable. ALSO: Aside from Ebert's thumb-up, this was on 16 Top-10 lists in '04. Worthy film!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Adekemi Sijuwade on March 8, 2008
Format: DVD
In a small, rural Burkina Faso village, where analog radio is still considered a novelty, women have steadily enforced an ancient tradition, despite Collé Gallo Ardo Sy's refusal to have her daughter circumcised. But now things are about to change because four other girls have run away from the "purification" camp to seek asylum with Collé.

Collé is the main character in Sembene Ousmane's film, Moolaadé (2004), a story about female genital mutilation in a small African society. Collé embodies female strength in this tale, overcoming death, disgrace, peer pressure- while managing to enforce change in this village trapped in time.

Ousmane uses African humor and wit to tell the story of a horrific act, which is not to say the film is not serious, but the subject is not over dramatized or politicized. The film captures the daily nuances of this Burkina Faso village and in doing so, reveals the social significance of female circumcision and a struggle to do away with the practice.

In the film, the group of powerful elderly women that perform the "purification" cut the young village girls and train their bodies to heal. The elderly women have barged on Collé to ask for six missing girls from the camp. Two of the six have run away, but the rest are being harboured by Collé. The girls have appealed for sanctuary in her home, and she in turn has called on the ancient protection of Moolaadé.

An ancient legend has it that the protective power of Moolaadé is so strong that it once turned a powerful village head into a hut that still remains today.
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