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Yeelen

Director:  Souleymane Cissé
Year Released:  1987
Rating:  3.5

Surreal fantasy set in Africa, where a young man is hunted down by his father and uncle, and whose mother prays for his safety. Oedipal story mixes in well with the delightful visual elements - the cinematography is jaw-dropping - and vague philosophy regarding the circle of life (please no Lion King references): the movie literally begins with a shot of a chicken and ends with two eggs. Not the dry, super-serious exercise in photography some of these meditative movies can be - Cissé is not making a documentary but an actual dream-movie, using bizarre images out of fairy tales and tribal narratives and some of the more magical elements of those stories: some characters have supernatural abilities, like being able to make others freeze in place or starting fires at will.

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