Borom Sarret (1963)

Borom Sarret
Directed by Ousmane Sembene
Written by Ousmane Sembene
First viewing/FilmStruck


You can’t hate the roots of a tree and not hate the tree. You can’t hate Africa and not hate yourself. Malcolm X

The life of a poor cart driver is anything but uplifting but Ousmane Sembene gives us a priceless look at African urban life through his eyes.

This 20-minute film covers a day in the life of a man who ekes out a living driving a wagon in the “African” quarter of Dakar, Senegal.  Most of his customers are even poorer than he.  It will not be a profitable day.

In one way this is a continuation of the “bleak movie” theme running through 1963.  But I found it pretty darned fascinating.

Montage of clips

Dry Summer (1963)

Dry Summer (Susuz Yaz)
Directed by Metin Erksan
Written by Metin Erksan, Kemal Inci, Ismet Soydan; story by Nekati Kumali
First viewing/FilmStruck


“Human kind is made up of two sexes, women and men. Is it possible that a mass is improved by the improvement of only one part and the other part is ignored? Is it possible that if half of a mass is tied to earth with chains and the other half can soar into skies?” ― Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

This brutal and infuriating film really got under my skin.

Kokabas Osman  has the heart and soul of a bully.  One fine day he decides that the land he owns with his brother Hasad requires every bit of water supplied by the spring on their property.  So he dams the spring, preventing water used downstream by farmers for irrigation from reaching its destination.  Hasad is totally opposed to this tactic but is too weak or bound by tradition to defy his older brother.  Violence between the downstream and upstream users ensues.

In the meantime, Kokabas has persuaded Hasan to steal away his betrothed, Bahar, before the wedding date her family has selected.  This is basically to get added labor for the farm.  But from the time of her arrival Kokabas’s lust knows no bounds.

Never have I longed more for a movie death than for the demise of the evil, greedy elder brother in this movie.  It’s another bleak 1963 entry but has so much energy and was so absorbing that I can recommend it.  Warning: Brief graphic footage of animal slaughter.