Wow! Where do I even begin with this film. Recently, I signed up for filmstruck, a huge collection of films dating back to the earliest days of cinema and even some modern day classics. I stumbled upon this film, not sure why, maybe the title itself and I had an hour to see it. It was made in France in 1966. This film, about a girl from West Africa, looking for work and being absolutely joyful when she starts working for a white family taking care of their kids. This film offers so much perspective and culture! I am blown away at the storytelling this director chose, you fall in love with Diouana and her desire to work, to make something of herself, to be an individual, yet, as this story progresses she begins to realize a self worth that eventually ends in a sad, heart wrenching twist. There is one scene that stuck out to me that says so much! When Diouana is looking for work in a higher scale building in Dakar, West Africa, she is denied many times for maid positions and as a door closes on her another door opens in the hallway and as she walks down, two young girls, black and white are arm and arm laughing and skipping past her down the hallway and she glances. Don't we do that today, we acknowledge and "glance" what it takes to live peacefully but do we really want it?
This film got me thinking about today's world, where we are at when it comes to work-life and "domestic slavery" as a character in this film put it. She was with a man in Africa but extremely excited to go to France to "work". Her boyfriend wondered why she would want "domestic slavery". Near the end when Diouana gets enough courage to realize that she is not going to be treated with disrespect, she takes back a gift that she gave the family in the beginning, an authentic tribal mask, and even offered 20,000 francs which translates to $20,000 or so dollars in US currency. She refuses! A triumphant scene. "Never will I be a slave." "I did not come here for the apron or the money."
I love older films, they are a part of our society that needs a desperate comeback, instead of agenda pushing material that is so blatantly obvious which comes by a lot these day, it is rare to find slow films that make your brain actually have to work. Think about that, brains that actually work! If you want your brain to start working and thinking, watch older films, they come from a time where pacing was less but they always offer more.