Every five to seven years, the Malagasy people of Madagascar participate in a ritual called Famidihana, or “the turning of the bones”, which involves removing deceased relatives from their respective family crypts and replacing their shrouds – usually a lamba – with cool ones just before dawn. Once the deceased has been given a makeover, lavish parties filled with dancing, drinking and eating are held in their honor and usually last until late afternoon.
And just before sunset, the remains of the deceased are taken back to the family crypts, usually in a different position than they were in before, to “put them at ease” until the next Famidihana ritual. (source: travellersworldwide.com). Takeshi Kamei, during his previous movie, “Guitar Madagascar” witnessed the custom and the whole concept of bone carriers, and decided to make a movie based on them.
The story begins in a small village in southeastern Madagascar, where an elder gathers a group of men and tells them that it is time to bring the remains of Nirina, a young girl who died to another place where she was. went to work. the village. Tantely, her older brother, and three others begin their journey across the island, but when they return, things take a very strange turn.
Takeshi Kamei’s film has a unique style, which incorporates elements of documentary, fiction, road movie and lots of music, while possibly adding an intense ritualistic aspect. As usual in road movies, the approach is episodic, with the smoking peddler, the butchering of an animal, and what follows the appearance of the three hooded men being some of the events around which the film revolves. story. At the same time, the presentation of the country and its culture and customs is just as intense, essentially giving the film a folksy hypostasis that works quite well for the narrative. This element benefits the most from the excellent cinematography, which captures a number of unique locations with artistry and gusto, with the long shots sometimes breathtaking, as much as the night scenes.
At the same time, this approach also results in a film that at times feels a lot like a National Geographic documentary, in its meaningful “tourist guide” aspect, to the point that it becomes a bit dull and hard to follow somehow. Kamei, however, realizes this fact just when he is about to become a real nuisance, and changes the style to intensely ritualistic, with the appearance of the three hooded men and the events that follow during the night, including the music, the appearance of ghosts and other beings that are not from reality, being the highlight of the whole film. The cinematography also finds its peak in these segments, as much as the editing, in a sequence that is quite impressive.
“VATA” is not an easy movie to watch, and a talent for the particular style of music, which is actually heard everywhere, and for the travel style of movies is a necessity here. However, the cinematography, the presentation of this rather unfamiliar custom, and the final segment make up for it significantly, making the film one worth watching.