Sog., Scen.: Djibril Diop Mambéty; F.: Pap Samba Sow, Goerges Bracher; Mo.: Siro Asteni; Mu.: Joséphine Baker, Mado Robin, Aminata Fall; Su.: El Hadji Mbow; Int.: Magaye Niang (Mory), Mareme Niang (Anta), Aminata Fall (Tante Oumy), Ousseynou Diop (Charlie). Prod.: Cinegri; Pri. Pro.: Mosca Film Festival, Luglio 1973 35mm. D.: 88’. Col.
Although it does not follow the clear linear progression of African storytelling, Touki Bouki includes thematic elements commonly found in African tales. Mory is the trickster type frequently described in the oral tradition, which portrays as well a number of protagonists leaving their village to venture in an unknown land. Like a folk hero, Mory has to overcome obstacles and triumph over adversity. In so doing, he performs a rite of passage from tradition to modernity, and from adolescence to adulthood. His odyssey is an initiatory rite resulting in new knowledge… Here Touki Bouki grows into both a morality and a dilemma tale. The moral of Mory’s story suggests that exile is but another form of alienation. Mory’s destiny is left to the viewer’s imagination, and as such Mambety’s plot calls to mind the openendedness of African dilemma tales. As in African oral stories, and despite the director’s opposition to outward message films, Touki Bouki espouses a didactic function: Mory’s quest for a dream is indeed a self-searching journey.
The story of Touki Bouki goes back centuries: men have always set out for new lands where they believe time never stops… Only few adventurers seem to make it, but that has never stopped anyone… Djibril left his Country with the dream of finding success and solace in Europe. He soon discovered, however, the cruelty of life. While his dream fell apart little by little Djibril found he was unable to leave “Europe”, his host Country. That was when returning to Africa became the real dream for him. Ending his days in Africa was a dream he would never fulfill.
Touki Bouki is a prophetic film. Its portrayal of 1973 Senegalese society is not too different from today’s reality. Hundreds of young Africans die every day at the Strait of Gibraltar trying to reach Europe (Melilla and Ceuta). Who has never heard of that before?
All their hardships find their voice in Djibril’s film: the young nomads who think they can cross the desert ocean and find their own lucky star and happiness but are disappointed by the human cruelty they encounter. Touki Bouki is a beautiful, upsetting and unexpected film that makes us question ourselves.
What a pleasure and what an achievement for Martin Scorsese’s Foundation to give Djibril Diop Mambéty a second life.
To all those who support cinema: bravo!
Digitally Restored At 2k Resolution Using The Original 35mm Camera And Sound Negatives Provided By The Director’s Son Teemour Diop Mambéty And Preserved At The Gtc In Paris. Digital Restoration Throught The Film’s Original Chromatic Elements To Light. At The End Of The Digital Process A New 35mm Internegative Was Produced. Carried Out By World Cinema Foundation At Cineteca Di Bologna / L’immagine Ritrovata Laboratory In May 2008