Timbuktu Blu-ray Review

Could the average American spot the flag representing the terrorist network ISIS more than they could spot the flag or Iraq or Syria? I’d be willing to bet money that people could spot the ISIS flag more than the two Middle Eastern countries flags. There’s a couple of ways you could view that. Even the worst kinds of fascists leave their imprint quickly and more prevalent than others and that’s why we recognize it. Or maybe it’s good we recognize symbols of hatred so that we are constantly reminded not to repeat history. The message that TIMBUKTU tries to convey by showing the ISIS flag so early in the movie is shrouded in mystery, but with so many heavy themes, it’s forgivable to be ambiguous.

I’m one of those Americans that can spot the ISIS flag out of a line-up, but when it comes to the country that TIMBUKTU is in…I have to shamefully admit I don’t know. Well luckily I have the Internet and a quick search reveals that it is in the West African nation of Mali. It’s a country, presumably like many others, dealing with bubbling factions of murderous fundamentalists. Timbuktu however is a much larger city than the town conveyed in TIMBUKTU.

It’s implied that our cast is in a small farming village. They’re large enough to have a bazaar, along with a mosque, as well as some other signs of civilization. The town is under the watchful, and armed, glare of a handful of terrorists. It’s not that the citizens aren’t law abiding believers in Islam, but that the self-imposed rulers have issued a series of absurd laws. There is to be no music, no sports, no revealing clothing, and I’m sure plenty of other asinine rules.


A layman might assume a movie like this may be a bash on Muslims and their faith, but TIMBUKTU is deeper than the afternoon talk radio nonsense that nut jobs tune in to. It starts out as a dry comedy that handles the touchy subject of despotism. They may have banned music, but does singing and playing music to the praises of Allah count? It’s not gut busting humor, but it’s certainly witty. It’s also features many moments of condemnation against these terrorists. While condemning sports, they have no problems talking about their favorite football (soccer) players.

What TIMBUKTU does so well, is that it plays like a parable. When things take a dark turn, they certainly take a sharp and shocking turn. I don’t want to reveal the dark turn, but if you’re an educated reader and watcher, you know that it involves our villains becoming real world villains and committing heinous acts. While they may not be as cruel as ISIS’ most recent crimes against humanity, they’re still cruel in nature.


So what makes TIMBUKTU so smart with its themes? It shows that these terrorists aren’t larger than life or evil. They’re human, but human only because they’ve latched on to something that gives them power. And isn’t it human to want power? While these ISIS individuals seek it through blood and violence, one cleric, featured predominately at the beginning of the movie, seeks it through peace and enlightenment. It’s definitely a movie worth talking about and a story worth examining.

The editing and clever mix of French, Arabic, and sometimes English, language give this a movie a more cultured view of its narrow minded bad guys. It helps hit home the idea that radicalism is never too far off and that we must keep a close eye on its developments and when it threatens to run rampant through the streets of a third world nation. TIMBUKTU’s message echoes through the history books.


Video: (1080p Widescreen 2:39:1) The dry sun and African heat can really be felt. There’s a lot moving images in this movie and they come through beautifully on this blu-ray presentation.

Audio: (Arabic DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) Music becomes a powerful tool towards the end of this movie and it’s presented in a crystal clear format. The natural sound and sound effects are well mixed and balanced with dialogue.

Interview with Director Abderrahmane Sissako (33:00): This is a really interesting discussion with the director. Since the director speaks French, an assistant is nearby to help translate for him, which slows down the pace of the conversation that’s happening between the director and the audience.

Theatrical Trailer


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