MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
On DVD and Blu-Ray, Streaming on Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play and Vudu.
Directed by Abderrahmane Sissako. Starring Ibrahim Ahmed, Toulou Kiki.
In Arabic, Bambara, English, French, Songhay and Tamasheq, with English subtitles.
Jesus once said “Do not give what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under foot and turn and maul you.” (Matthew 7:6 NRSV)
Taking something that is sacred and treating it as a tool of violence or oppression is a sin that constantly insinuates itself into the human condition. For what power is greater than the power of God? When the devil invited Jesus to consider running the world this way, he replied: “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” (Matthew 4:10 NRSV)
Timbuktu tells a simple story in an elegant fashion about a village in Mali that is overtaken by radical Islamic fundamentalists and placed under their uncompromising Shariah law. The villagers are Muslim to begin with, so this is not simply people of another faith imposing their religion upon the heathen, but a brutal military force that is profaning and exploiting religion in their attempt to control the citizens.
The people do not submit willingly to this power grab. Some protest effectively against the strict demands of the occupying force and get away with it for a season. Others will be severely punished for such offenses as listening to music, playing soccer or smoking.
The main characters in Timbuktu are a husband (Ahmet) and wife (Kiki), their daughter (Layla Walet Mohamed), and a hired boy (Mehdi A. G. Mohamed) who herd cattle in the desert. Since they work outside of the village, they are spared most of the drama that is taking place in the town. But an unforeseen tragedy will bring them into contact with the brutality of the occupying force.
The film is mostly observational. There are no big speeches. The film is beautifully shot, with many stunning visual images. There are brief moments of humor from time to time, but Timbuktu boldly and quietly shows us the stark effect of using the name of God in vain.
Timbuktu was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the 2015 Academy Awards. This is an unforgettable film experience from one of the world’s great filmmakers. You should take the time to rent or stream Timbuktu.
Four halos: A beautiful and tragic film about the abuse of religion and power.)
Four pitchforks: Violence (including flogging and stoning), subtitle swearing, and religious oppression. Mild PG-13 swearing.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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