Timbuktu is a place so remarkably remote to Western eyes that its terrain and infrastructure would have looked more familiar on Tatooine than anywhere in this world. It’s glistening sand-swept landscape holds a more sinister side than the blissfully peaceful soundtrack and idyllic family situation initially presented.
Circling like a pack of hyenas are a group of Jihadists seemingly doing less of God’s work, and more simply oppressing. Restrictions on clothing, football and music, which seems an innate part of the Malian culture, hinder and frustrate the citizens, while the armed Jihadists stalk and skulk, preying on any deviation.
The situation and the hypocrisy of those enforcing it is one Western eyes struggle to fully comprehend. The normality of the reprehensible violence is a most visceral contrast to the serene setting. Instances of such will render one physically uncomfortable.
Timbuktu‘s story is one of family shaken by such instability. It is a tale of a family deserted by all they hold dear; a family clearly navigating their eventual demise. Timbuktu teaches of strength and leniency in a situation sorely lacking it. A moving and intensely delicate piece, Timbuktu opens a door to a world not too distant from our own, but feels a million miles away.
(Check out the picture, still on selected screenings, and listen to the film’s beautiful main theme below.)