ENG197 Studies in African Film Michael Dembrow, Instr.
LE CAMP DE THIAROYE/CAMP THIAROYE (1987, Senegal, 152 min., directed by Ousmane Sembène and Thierno Faty Sow; screenplay by Sembène and Sow; cinematography by Ismail Lakhdar Hamina; music by Ismail Lô; with Ibrahima Sane (Sergeant-Major Diatta), Sijiri Bakaba (Pays), Jean-Daniel Simon (Captain Raymond), Mohamed Dansoko Camara, Gustave Sorgho, Gaston Ouedraogo, Gabriel Zahon, Casimir Zoba, and Ismail Lô. In French and Wolof.
2. The opening of the filmdisembarking from the ship to the arrival at the camp--is quite long. Why did Sembène not edit it down, to make it briefer? What is the director trying to achieve with this opening?
3. We come to learn that these "Tirrailleurs Africains" (African Infantrymen) come from a variety of West African areashence we have men known as "Niger," "Congo," etc. (Their common language is French). Many of them spent years together as soldiers and as German prisoners of war. Give examples of ways in which they display their comeraderie, their sense of community, despite their different backgrounds.
5. Two of the other memorable African characters are Corporal Dialla and "Pays," the man who wears the German SS helmet. What do they add to the film?
7. Discuss the picture that we get of French colonialism in this film. Give examples. In what ways does this film capture many of the essential qualities of colonialism in general?
9. One of the plot elements in the film is the confusion that occurs because the soldiers are given the uniforms of American G.I.s. Discuss the picture of America that we get here, as well as the theme of America, what it represents.
10. Discuss the cinematography in the film. Do you notice many close-ups? Any? When do they occur? How would you characterize the style of the filming?
11. What do you notice about the music in the film?
14. Le Camp de Thiaroye rediscovers a hidden piece of history for us. But it does more than that, doesn't it? In what ways is the film an allegory for ongoing issues? To what extent does this document about colonialism have relevance in this post-colonial age?