Movie Review: Black Girl (1966)


Title:La noire de…
Release Date: 1966
Director: Ousmane Sembène
Production Company: Filmi Domirev | Les Actualités Françaises
Summary/Review:

This film was made a few years after Senegal gained its independence from France and is considered one of the first feature films created by people from sub-Saharan Africa.  It explores the themes of lingering colonialism and imperialism through the story of a young woman named Diouana (Mbissine Thérèse Diop).  She leaves her impoverished village near Dakar to work for a French couple in their apartment on the French Riviera.

While she expects to care for their children, Diouana is surprised that the woman, known only as Madame (Anne-Marie Jelinek), makes her do all the household chores and cooking. In flashbacks, we learn that Diouana worked as a nanny for the couple when they were living in Dakar and that Madame was treated her much more generously.  Over time Diouana feels trapped in the apartment, not allowed to explore the French village where they live, and falls into a depression with tragic consequences.  The final scene is a haunting image of how colonizers will always be haunted by their past, especially if they fail to make reconciliation.

Rating: ****