La Pirogue (2012)

Lansana: "Even if we end up dead and mummified, dragged to Brazil, I won't regret anything."
By Moussa Touré 
With Souleymane Seye Ndiaye, Laïty Fall and Malaminé "Yalenguen" Dramé

I heard about this movie on a French website, as I have secret plans of watching a movie made from every country in the world and since I never watched one from Senegal, I decided to watch this one.

La Pirogue follows 30 men from different tribes and ethnicities embark on a pirogue from Dakar, Senegal to Spain. They have hopes and dreams about Europe, each one having a specific reason to go, all sharing the same reason to leave: the dearth of possibilities in their country.

La Pirogue is a powerful movie, it is rough but remains honest, humble and opinionated throughout the duration of the movie. The beginning gives us little background on some of the principal characters, but mostly, it gives us an idea of the type of life and hopes the people in the movie share. Most of the movie however, focuses on the trip, the tensions, the encounters, the moments of joy and the moments of sadness, the compromises and most importantly, the survival.

In its adversity, it reminded me of the 1963 film Alone Across the Pacific (Taiheiyô Hitoribocchi), given of course that this is not the Pacific and that they're not alone, but the struggle of living on a boat which is not made to do such trips and having to ration food and water is very much alike. Moreover, both movies depict people who leave their country for the sake of finding something else, maybe a better place, but also to learn about themselves. There is nothing particularly striking about this movie, yet it leaves a good impression because everything works well together. It is as much a drama as it is a tribute to all those men and women who tried their chance on such embarkations.

I liked: the dynamic of the individuals on the pirogue. The sea and its wilderness and beauty. The different emotions throughout the trip. The story overall.

I disliked: A little slow to start with. Difficult to figure out all the dialogues at once.

I think it deals with a varied range of themes immigration and emigration, adventure, sea, West Africa... and it should interest you if you do have such interests.


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