Julie et Romeo, to English viewers and audience is a tacit adaptation of the famous William Shakespear's play The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, by Boubakar Diallo of Burkina Faso...
The adaptation of the title defeat the essence of creativity in art, even though the director was smart to assume a populist name for the film it leaves Diallo's works in the pale shadow of Shakespeare"as the title whether Julie et Romeo or Romeo and Juliet is ascribed globally to the famous English play writer.
African play writers and directors must impose themselves onto the global entertainment market with creative titles....in the 21st Century Africa films cannot compete at the international levels in the shadow of other competitors.
Julie et Romeo is supposedly presented as a passionate, romantic, intense, and rhapsodic, love story but unfortunately the cast, is without expressive exposure of extremes of emotional ecstasy especially by lover bird, Julie. The character Julie put out an image of a very strong, rigid, fearless and sometimes robust personality contrary to the dictates of romantic fantasies.
Shakespeare wrote the original Romeo and Juliet, in full knowledge that the story he was telling was old, clichéd, and an easy target for parody, so implicitly set himself the task of telling a love story despite the considerable forces he knew were stacked against it, African film director Diallo seems to have set the same target, which clearly exposes the populist business motive for the film.
Diallo led the audience into spiritual ecstasy, creating the impression that the solution to love entanglement lies within the bosom of black magical powers and juju men, a development classified as dangerous due to the passionate and emotional attachment to love affairs. People may resort to such mediums to resolve love affairs.
The mystical world was over played, and interestingly some of the characters failed to show signs of an encounter with the mystic world...typical example was Julie spiritually vanished from the uncle's shrine and strangely dropped heavily few steps from some village, ladies beside a pond fetching water with a calabash.
The two ladies surprisingly just got up and walk straight to the strange lady who had just dropped from heaven lying on the ground gently touch to wake her up, this is the highest point of departure from realistic world. Ladies normal behaviour to weird and wonderful incident as happened in the film is to run and scream for help.
Another bizarre response to the mystic actions was Julie who supposedly entered into the powerful shrine cave of the uncle to destroy the things there. In the process of attacking the gods, she was beaten up by swarm of bats but for the timely intervention of the uncle she would have be beaten to death. But in Diallo's film, Julie just walksout of the shrine cave without any visible scratch on the body... ooohs.
The Director also seems to be over focused on characters instead of the storyline thereby devoting all energy and resources on scene to scene, but interweaving the stories at some point would have created suspension in the mind of viewers... you could predict what's going to happen next, along side the film.
Usually with populist films the director of Julie et Romeo uses effectively the power of creative skills to have fun with the emotions of viewers, moves them into wonderland especially the young ones, but in the realistic world, the story.....
In spite of the above the director deserves tones of commendation as through the incomparable intensity of his language, he succeeded in this effort, writing a play with youthful appeal but traditionally and culturally with a challenge.
He knows what he wants and bingo, that is the mark of a courageous and strong headed person. Costume for the characters was fantastic and carefully selected to go along with particular role, whilst location was extremely helpful in revealing the story.
The director also exhibited great breviary by using mostly amateur actors for a highly populist, sensitive and expensive film, Julie et Romeo.
Another act of greatness was the use of modern technology to transmit African spiritual powers-the engagement between the two powerful juju men in the spiritual world was technically exemplified in the production.
by Francis AMEYIBOR
Published on Tuesday 02 March 2011, Bulletin Africiné n°14 - Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), FESPACO 2011 - n°3, pp. 1 et 7.
with the support of French Ministry of Foreign Affairs (France) Africalia (Belgium) and Africultures (France).