Review: ‘Mahaleo’

The beauty of Malagasy music, with its mellow guitars and whiff of Polynesian melody, is given a political context in this colorful look back at the anti-colonial movement and various island crises since then. Nicely lensed and recorded pic would be aces for music-centered fests and will sit well with politicos, too.

The beauty of Malagasy music, with its mellow guitars and whiff of Polynesian melody, is given a political context in this colorful look back at the anti-colonial movement and various island crises since then. This wide-ranging docu focuses on the eponymous combo, whose members have gone on to other useful trades while keeping music as a center to heart-filled living. Nicely lensed and recorded pic would be aces for music-centered fests and will sit well with politicos, too.

Named for a local word for freedom, title combo hooked up in 1972, just as the Portuguese were losing their grip on African colonies, including Madagascar. Band’s seven members managed to survive numerous upheavals, and all moved into other areas while keeping music happening on the side. Several went into medicine, while one became a farmer and another’s a current member of parliament. Cameras follow each on his daily rounds, while co-helmers throw in archival clips of the band’s past and island history, to colorful effect. Outfit’s reunion (capitalized on in Parisian dates in late October) adds icing to a soundtrack already full of tasteful delights.

Mahaleo

Madagascar-France-Belgium

Production

A Shellac release (in France) of a Laterit Prods. production, in association with Arte France Cinema. (International sales: Laterit Prods., Paris.) Produced by Marie-Clemence Paes. Directed by Marie-Clemence Paes, Raymond Rajaonarivelo. Written by Marie-Clemence Paes, Cesar Paes.

Crew

Camera (color), Cesar Paes, Rajaonarivelo; editor, Agnes Contensou; music, Mahaleo. Reviewed at Vancouver Film Festival, Oct. 11, 2005. Running time: 102 MIN.

With

Mahaleo.
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