Arlecchino Cinema > 15:00


Souleymane Cissé
Introduced by

Frédéric Bonnaud (Cinémathèque française)


Thursday 27/08/2020


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Den Muso is the first feature-length film by a great filmmaker. The eternal story of a young girl violated, made pregnant and then abandoned, it is agonisingly sad and reveals social – and religious – mechanisms so inextricably intertwined that the worst outcome is always guaranteed. With this story, openly derived from classic melodrama, Cissé shows with documentary precision a Mali in the grips of rapid urbanisation and the increasing gap between the upper middle classes of the towns, the street youth of Bamako and the unpaved alleys of past times. The deaf mute sacrificed by an ambitious idiot obviously represents the silence imposed on women and the crushing weight of patriarchy. The powers that be at the time were not fooled: Cissé was sent to prison and the film was completely banned for three years. But Den Muso is the starting point for a particular genre, in which Cissé already affirms himself as the great sensualist that the world would discover with Finyé (The Wind), and then Yeel- en and Waati. Even in a setting closer to a ‘rape and revenge’ scenario than the erotic scenes of Finyé, with its unforgettable naked students, Cissé cannot help exalting the beauty of the female body. He immediately proves himself a filmmaker capable of isolating a detail that reveals the whole, and inventing a gesture that contains an entire world. A bitter and desperate film, in which nothing is less certain than the slightest improvement, Den Muso also marks the first flowering of an absolutely singular cinematic style, which mixes dry social protest with the infinite beauty of the world. 

Frédéric Bonnaud 

Cast and Credits

Scen.: Abdoulaye Sidibé, Cheik Hamala Keita, Souleymane Cissé, Marc. F.: Mariselen Jara. M.: Andrée Davanture. Scgf: Lamine Dolo. Mus.: Wandé Kuyaté. Int.: Dounamba Dany Coulibaly, Gogo Danba, Fanta Diabate, Omou Diarra, Yaya Jakite, Adulayi Jara, Balla Moussa Keita. Prod.: Souleymane Cissé per Cissé Films. DCP. Col.