Sunday, 31 December 2006

DVD: The White Masai

Lowdown: A modern Swiss woman leaves her world behind to join her Masai lover in his world.
Several things contributed to make The White Masai an interesting film we wanted to watch. First there's the fact that it is based on a true story: the story of a Swiss woman who, while traveling in Africa, falls in love with a Masai warrior and stays there to live with him somewhere in the middle of nowhere. And second is the fact that this is a German speaking film, as in this is not a made in Hollywood film that would focus on the cheesy. Indeed, we were right on both accounts, and indeed the film is an interesting film to watch. I cannot, however, endorse it as a particularly good film.
The main problem with the film is that it's just not credible. Yes, I know it's based on a true story and as such it should receive more credit than the vast majority of all other films; but then again, the prospect of a European falling for a Masai warrior just because she saw him standing there and leaving her old life behind for a person she knows nothing about and with whom she has very little in common is a bit of a stretch. The film does show her disappointment from her European boyfriend which helps in driving her away, but at the bottom line I find it very hard to identify with the film's premises. It could be real, but the likelihood of it happening to me is lower than winning the lottery low.
Another problem with the film is that, being based on reality, it suffers in certain artistic departments. For example, several characters (e.g., the priest) are left undeveloped, and several plot lines which could have been interestingly explored are left abandoned. The result is a film that feels a lot like a documentary on Africa and the differences between the African and the Western ways of life. This is obviously one of the film's aims - for example, by showing us the development of the act of love making between the two lovers, from an animal like instinct to a proper womanly orgasm. The problem, though, is that you watch it to learn about Africa as opposed to watching it for the plot and the characters.
Still, one good thing to take away from the film is the warning it provides against the virtues of falling in love at first sight.
Worst scenes: The film has some good scenes, but what I remember mostly are the worst ones. First there is the scene in which the hero, searching for the Masai warrior she fell in love with at first sight, wakes up in the middle of the night "feeling" something. She gets up to see the warrior waiting for her outside. Come on, do we need such kitsch?
The second worst scene could be regarded as even worse. The hero returns to the Masai after a break in Switzerland, and upon seeing her warrior they run at one another in very poor slow motion.
Picture quality: There are not many digital artifacts, but overall the picture lacks resolution - typical for a film shot with less than your typical Hollywood budget on location. Some great African vistas, though.
Sound quality: Pretty basic, other than a few bursts of surround mixed music.
Overall: An interesting 2.5 stars, but it could have easily been more given the subject matter.

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