The night of the kings
In the remand prison and Correction of Abidjan, the MACA, the only prison in the city, Blackbeard is the Dangôro, the supreme leader, the one who, according to the codes and laws that govern this prison, has all the rights on the prisoners. His problem is that he is sick and, in the case of the Dangôro, the law provides that when the Dangôro is sick or can’t govern, he should give the death. Among the prisoners, some of them, like a Half-Mad, are loyal to Blackbeard, while others, such as Lass, are already working on the designation of his successor, a chef who will have to consider the other prisoners as customers and not as slaves. To save time, Blackbeard imagines taking advantage of the arrival of a new prisoner, a young thief from the neighborhood Without-law, designating it as the new “Novel,” a kind of griot that, the next night or the one after that, the night of the red moon, will you tell a story throughout the night until the break of day. Silence, the only prisoner white of the prison, a man who wanders around with a chicken perched on a shoulder, warns Novel: “If you want to have a chance to survive, never finish your story.” Novel knows no gift to tell a story. His only chance is that he has had Zama King as a childhood friend, and he chooses to tell the story of the man who was the leader of the gang of ” germs “, which will lead him, to conserve life, to tell also that of Soni, the father, the blind Zama King, and the queen which Soni had become the confidant. Stories that can only fascinate the inmates.
Realism, magic, fantasy
A nod to Shakespeare, with the title of the film, a big nod to Scheherazade , and The tale of the thousand and one nights, with this story to tell which must never end, and, above all, a dip in the imaginary African, a universe in which to mix realism, magic, and fantasy, here are the basic ingredients of the film of Philippe Lacôte. To taste this film, it is essential to not look to see that the ” realism “, true or false, of the kind so often discussed in the prison film. This is close to the truth or not, The MACA, a prison that the director knows well, having been there to visit her mother when she was imprisoned, is presented as being almost totally governed by the inmates. This “tour” of the prison and its inmates is visually beautiful by taking advantage of the format 2.35:1 and a set photography/light absolutely sumptuous. When Novel tells the story of Zama King, his words are often taken, immediately, in improvisation, in the form of dances or songs, which seems, of course, very artificial but which, thanks to the excellence of the staging, adds an additional layer to the high-quality aesthetic of the film. As the story of the Novel, in the way of an epic, mixing historical facts and legends related to it. e.s to the Ivory Coast, Philippe Lacôte has chosen to illustrate some of the time it’s about through flashbacks quasi-documentary filmed at the Steadicam. This blend of realism and fantasy, these changes in the aesthetic of the picture happen to maintain a constant tension in the viewer, hampered only by some of the dialogue non-subtitled, sometimes difficult to understand for the ears of metropolitan France.
Philippe Lacôte has spent a lot of time assembling his cast. It is in the neighborhoods of Abidjan that he has found the dancers, singers, acrobats, contortionists, and practitioners of the martial arts that he was looking for. A workshop has helped to make these non-professional artists credible and ready to perform in front of the camera movements of the group devised by the producer. Bakary Koné is one of these non-professional and he proves to be a great accurate in his interpretation of the Novel. The film also includes a handful of actors that have been confirmed, such Abdoul Karim Konaté (Lass) and Rasmané Ouédraogo (Soni), already present in the Run, as well as Steve P, The Mayor in Les Miserables. Such, also, Denis Lavant, the interpreter of Silence. As for the beautiful photography, it is the work of the Canadian Tobit Marry Robitaille.
Mixing facts, real facts, and legends, all linked to the Ivory Coast, Philippe Lacôte offers a sensory experience and aesthetic that maintains a large voltage in the audience for 90 minutes. Visually beautiful, The Night of the kingsis also masterfully directed and very well interpreted by a “troop” in which the actors were very much in the minority.