Oct 15, 2005

Life on Earth (1998)


Remember the big Y2K scare, where you stocked up on water, batteries and Playboy? Yeah me neither. Anyway a couple of years prior to the turning of the millenium, a world wide collective of filmmakers made some films in the "2000 seen by..." series, each offering a unique vision of life at the beginning of January 1, 2000. For my money, the best of these is this mesmirizing and charming film by Abdermahne Sissako.

This quiet meditation of life in an African village is a celebration of simplicity, clashing with the crazy modern world we see in the film's opening. This is a place where one stands in line to use "the phone", and where the day's activity is moving one's chair as the shade recedes. I do not want to give the impression that the film itself is in any way simplistic. It actually has a very dense narrative structure, as people talk to the camera as though they are the words written on a letter.

LIFE ON EARTH is also a pleasant reminder of how in the last millenium one still had a chance to see a movie like this in a theatre. It is one of the true treasures of the international cinema of the 1990's.

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