Ousmane Sembene’s vicious circle: The politics and aesthetics of La Noire de … | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 5, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1754-9221
  • E-ISSN: 1754-923X



La Noire de …, widely considered black Africas first independent feature film, is about a womans recognition of the duplicitous nature of neocolonial subjectivity, a duplicity that Sembene himself recognized during the production of the film. Historically, French cinematographic institutions, implanted in Senegal in order to facilitate African film-making, operated within a circular logic that required Sembene to be both French and Senegalese. Aesthetically, Sembene impugns this circular logic through his ironic use of focalization, montage and mise-en-scène, offering a critique not only of French neocolonialism, but also of assimilationist policies of the early Senegalese government. The result of such assimilationist collusion is the construction of a both/and existence, whereby nations subject to history are perceived as apart from time and space, and garner the qualities of myth, blinding both colonizer and colonized to the dialectical process responsible for such a fractured reality. In La Noire de … Sembene develops a spatiotemporal aesthetics of neocolonialism that acts as the primary structural principle of the film and reveals the contradictory existence of the neocolonial subject.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): aesthetics; film history; identity; politics; space; time
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