Identity in Film.docx - Identity in Film A repeated subject that Ousmane Sembene likes to focus on is the theme of identity crisis This theme is

Identity in Film.docx - Identity in Film A repeated subject...

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Identity in Film A repeated subject that Ousmane Sembene likes to focus on is the theme of identity crisis. This theme is dominant in the film Xala. In Xala you see the protagonist, El Hadji’s, continuous struggle between his African roots and tradition (Africanity) against European colonization influences. Throughout the film, Sembene frames El Hadji as someone who loses their identity (or his Africanity) to greed and European influences, and is struggling to find it again. Sembene puts into effect this identity crisis instantly at the start of the film. During the opening scene you see El Hadji, along with the seven others who make up the Chamber of Commerce after their independence, throw out the existing European chamber. What is important about this scene is not only are they taking over the chamber, but the clothing that they have on is significant as well. El Hadji and the seven others are dressed in traditional African clothing in this scene, while the European chamber men are dressed in suits. Contrast this image with the one seen in the following scene where El Hadji and the newly appointed commerce have assumed their chamber roles. In a later scene you see El Hadji and the others dressed in business suits, they are no longer wearing their traditional African garments. Sembene is trying to play on this idea of European influence. The suits, along with the money being given to them in this scene, shows how El Hadji and the commerce are already beginning to lose their identity to greed and European influences.

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