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Black Girl/Borom Sarret

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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(Nov 22, 2005)
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

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

Special Features

None.

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
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: New Yorker
  • DVD Release Date: November 22, 2005
  • Run Time: 80 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000A59PNI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,562 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Black Girl/Borom Sarret" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By nadav haber on 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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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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"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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I first watched Black Girl in college and it opened my eyes. It involves the psychology of colonialism for Africans and Europeans. It explores identity and racism as well. It also involves African optimism and disappointment....The African mask is very significant. Borom Sarret is about a day in the life of a cart driver. Having watched these films, I am interested in watching more of Ousmane Sembene's movies and reading his books. I highly recommend these films.
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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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A wonderful look at Senegal, racism, and colonization, done through symbolism and language.
Everyone should see this film!
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The opening shot is of a long white luxury liner gracefully gliding into a French port. The liner slices through black seas in what looks to be an obvious colonial/postcolonial metaphor albeit a beautifully photographed one. Probably the most fascinating thing about the film though is its refusal to offer any easy simplistic white/black discourses. In fact, essentialist and existentialist notions of identity (for both whites and blacks) seem to exist side by side throughout the film. In the second shot, Diouana, the black girl, exits the liner and wonders (on voiceover) if there will be anyone there to pick her up. We then watch as she adjust to her new life as a live-in housemaid in France. In flashback we learn what led her there. Diouana lived in a Senegalese shantytown with her extended family and everyone in her extended family works to feed and clothe and educate the family so Diouana seeks work as a maid. She is soon hired by a family that lives in Dakar. Money is one of her motivations but its not her sole motivation. You can tell that she likes wearing the French dresses she is given to wear. The other blacks in her shantytown seem suspicious of whites and protective of their black culture/heritage but Diouana is kind of carefree and even though one of her family members is a schooteacher she never bothers to learn to read. In her spare time she looks at fashion magazines. She is surrounded by blacks who value their culture and family but she wants something else for herself--so when the opportunity comes for her to move to France she jumps on it and even dances barefoot on a statue that commemorates those who gave their lives in the struggle for independence.Read more ›
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