Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Nowhere in Africa

2003 Oscar Winner Best Foreign Language Film

Dir: Caroline Link (Beyond Silence)

Ah, back to classic Oscar form. Europe works through the war. Now that's a foreign movie!

A family of Jews flees Germany in 1938 for Kenya. The culture clash, and the pressures of global war, force the characters to reckon with their identities and each other. Epic in both narrative and direction, the movie is both intriguing and beautiful visually.

As the Germans assimilate into Africa, there are many observations on identity that were thought provoking. The young daughter easily fits in, and over the course of her adolsecence becomes more African than Jewish in many ways. The father, robbed of his comfortable job and forced into farming by the relocation, deals with imasculation. And the mother must deal with her own racism even as her situation was the product of racism. Plus, ex-patriots of all stripes must reckon with their allegiances thousands of miles away from their former homelands. Each character grows in intersting ways, is forced to make difficult decisions, and in my mind the movie illuminates aspects of intolerance and identity construction quite well.

The African actors are especially strong, cheerful and loyal and engaging. Very sensitvely written, the movie exposes their particular customs and refuses to pass judgment.

The film is solid, without a doubt. Not quite transcendent. But better than Hero? Uh, no.



Blogger Kozy noted on 10/27/2007 02:10:00 PM that...

I agree that Nowhere in Africa was a wonderful film.

I do disagree with you on one point. In your review you state that the girl becomes more African than Jewish. I totally disagree with this notion. These sentiments are not mutually exclusive. She can be a Jewish German, a Jewish African, whatever ....

Each week on my blog
April 31st
I recommend a film to watch. This week I also recommended Nowhere in Africa!

Keep up the rec's ...