Moolaadé (2004)

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Released 8-Nov-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Yesterday, Amandla!, Darwin's Nightmare, Dogora
Trailer-Look Both Ways, Kenny
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 119:31
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Ousmane Sembene

Madman Entertainment
Starring Fatoumata Coulibaly
Maimouna Hélène Diarra
Salimata Traoré
Dominique Zeïda
Mah Compaoré
Aminata Dao
Rasmane Ouedraogo
Ousmane Konaté
Bakaramoto Sanogo
Modibo Sangaré
Joseph Traoré
Théophile Sowié
Balla Habib Dembélé
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Boncana Naiga

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   It's accurate but depressing to say that Moolaadé is the best film you've never heard of. But more depressing than that is that the recent passing of the wonderful "Father of African cinema" Ousmane Sembene barely made the papers, despite the great work this author-then-filmmaker did during his life. A Senegalese film director, producer and writer, he originally wrote novels exploring important themes and ideas for Africa during the mid-20th century, making waves and controversy; later, when he discovered film, he changed his medium so that he could reach the widest possible audience. In 2004, he wrote and directed arguably his greatest piece, Moolaadé, a phenomenal life-affirming piece exploring the controversial subject of female genital mutilation, depicting strong women rising above the dangerous domination of their culture to tackle a barbaric and ancient ritual, and the ideology that drives it.

In a village in Burkina Faso, a strong-willed woman named Colle hides several young girls from the cultural ritual of "purification", the brutal often life threatening act of female circumcision. Calling upon the time-honoured custom of moolaadé (magical protection), she and the other women in the village come together to rebel against the misogynistic attitudes towards them, using the cultural traditions to fight masculine domination, finding strength in knowledge as well as unlikely allies. As the men running the town attempt to overcome the women, their power goes beyond the "moolaadé", confronting the values that bind them.

Shot authentically and powerfully, Moolaadé moved audiences at the Cannes Film Festival and manages to bear the weight of the heavy subject matter without being exploitative or excruciating to watch - instead, the film is a celebration of life, and overcoming adversity and outdated, dangerous ideology. It is a beautiful film that will continue to resonate, and is a worthy swan song for Ousmane Sembene.

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Transfer Quality


   The video is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

   The video features a black border and is generally very rough, featuring pixelation and low level noise. It's an average transfer, in which there are few artefacts but occasional other issues, including some telecine wobble, some odd issues with flickering, and a look of softness that covers the entire film, with few scenes that are very sharp. This isn't uncommon for low budget features, but a lot of the blame here is clearly due to a mediocre job converting the film to digital.

   Contrasting to these issues, the colours flourish brightly and the look of the film is great - it's as close to this kind of culture as a lot of us are going to get, and the video does a good job of putting us in that place, despite some of the drawbacks.

   There is one English subtitle track, which is turned on by default, and it is unfortunately the major drawback for this DVD. The subtitles are horrible, full of spelling errors, mistranslations, long parts of dialogue not translated, and important words untranslated making their meanings completely unknown. It is the worst subtitle track I have ever come across, actively detracting from the film and making the experience less enjoyable and even understandable. Although it avoids the most common problem with subtitles - being invisible using only a single colour for text (this track uses the black-bordered-yellow text favoured by the SBS subtitling department) - the problems with this track leave me unable to recommend the DVD, and for a film this good, that is a horrible shame.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


   The audio is presented in Bambara Dolby Digital 2.0.

   The soundtrack is adequate and utilizes both channels for surround rather than being a simple mono track split across two channels. There is plenty of immersion in the sounds of Burkina Faso, both in and out of the village, and the dialogue is all audible and well balanced with the effects and music.

   Although a 5.1 track would have been nicer, the Dolby Digital 2.0 works with the soundtrack to create a nice sense of atmosphere.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Animated Menus with Sound

   Fragments of the wonderful score play behind still art from the film, putting you in the right atmosphere to view. Unfortunately, the menus are very low res.

Original Theatrical Trailer (1:31)

   The original theatrical trailer is presented here in very low resolution 1.33:1, but very nicely sells the film and includes a much better subtitle track than what is included on the DVD.

Madman Propoganda - Anti-Piracy PSA (0:31), Yesterday (2:17), Amandla! (1:49), Darwin's Nightmare (1:59), Dogora (1:50), Look Both Ways (0:38), Kenny (1:53)

   After the insulting forced PSA, we are treated to several Madman trailers in full original aspect ratio. Nice but irrelevant and not essential.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   I am unable to find any information about an R1 release of this film; however, there is an R2 that completely trumps our edition; we miss out on:

• Interview with Ousmane Sembene (25:20 / 16x9)

• Making of 'Moolaadé' (24:46 / 4:3)

• Ousmane Sembene Filmography

I am unable to find any complaints with the subtitles from this version, meaning that the R4 should be immediately skipped by anyone who wants to see this film properly (and everyone should).


   Moolaadé is a wonderful, extraordinary film.

   The video and audio are both adequate, but the awful subtitle track makes watching the film very hard, actively destroying the experience.

   There are few extras.

   Do not buy this DVD - buy elsewhere if you want to see this film, and, as mentioned, you should.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ryan Aston (Bioshock)
Monday, July 16, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDLG LH-D6230, using Component output
DisplayBenq PE7700. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
Speakers B&W LCR 600 S3 (Front & Centre); B&W DM 600 (Rears); B&W ASW500 (Sub)

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