This is an Islamic portrayal of several seemingly unlinked story lines that follow characters, some who meet, some who never cross paths in any physical way. Thus, and this comparison by no means degrades or undermines the fantastically beautiful cinematography and the seriousness of the director Abderrahmane Sissako’s chosen topic, the film bears a striking resemblance to Richard Curtis’ Love Actually (2003).
In utterly opposing ways, both directors capture the importance of the message of community and humanity’s united struggle. In Curtis’ much lighter case, the struggle is love; he reveals it working out for some but also inserts the failure or imperfectness of love, an inescapable necessity for humanity.
Similarly, Sissako portrays the struggle within a community against a tyrannical radical group. But he ridicules this using satire, a technique especially understood and utilised throughout British history and famous literary figures – for example the infamous Earl of Rochester and Shakespeare. This black humour draws the audience’s attention to the ludicrous, inhumane atrocities committed in the modern day; by allowing the audience to laugh at them, it deepens the shock once they understand what they’re laughing at. Additionally, another particularly British technique is the lack of polished glamour in this film that’s always found in Hollywood blockbusters. The characters in the film are shown falling over, men in authority are shown unable to start their motor bikes, but not as slapstick. This realist style is adopted time and time again in British cinema, for instance in The Full Monty, a film about unattractive, unsuccessful, blundering men with thick unglamorous Manchurian accents.
Sissako has adopted some of these techniques in order to tell his story in a fascinating way, yet has created a stunning sunset in a sand dune setting, combining narrative and beauty flawlessly.
Timbuktu is released nationwide on 22nd May 2015.
Watch the trailer for Timbuktu here: