Hyenas

I thought this movie was rather interesting and quite symbolic in nature. The setting of this film is supposed to be in an African desert-like state in a small town named Colobane. We immediately can notice how strange the setting is: a town in the middle of nowhere surrounded by desert. It gives the town of Colobane this very isolated feel that in turn gives it a sense of innocence: it has not been corrupted…yet. Although the state of affairs in Colobane is not amazing, it is tolerable and the inhabitants are able to live a decent life. However, with the news that a former citizen, who is now extremely rich, is coming back to Colobane, the town begins to shake. The arrival of Linguere Ramatou signifies the intrigue of colonialism. It gives the people in the town a glimpse of what a wealthy life can be like. Arriving in a rolls royce with an entourage, Ramatou is bedecked in richness (as well as solid gold crutches!). I read a review of Hyenas and one author put it in better words than I can think of: “Ramatou stands like an angel of destruction at the top of the town’s walls. With her unlimited sources of capital she symbolizes, on the one hand, the ruthlessness of an invading economic and cultural power system, and on the other, the African continent’s immense capacity for victimhood.” With these fancy new ideals, Ramatou takes advantage of Colobane’s desperate need of change: She tells the town that she will give them riches upon riches if and only if they kill Dramin Drameh, a former lover, due to past humiliation. Initially the town rebuffs her “generous” offer: this is when the tides turn. Ramatou begins to bestow upon the town “gifts” from around the world. Not only that, but she also introduces the concept of credit and it’s counterpart, debt. By doing so, Ramatou creates this vicious circle of necessity: the town now needs her in order to repay their debts. After falling down the abyss of greed, the Colobane citizens have no choice but to kill Dramin, signifying the triumph of greed and self-interest over humanity. I did not realize what was going on in the last scene after Dramin is killed (with the bulldozer). Apparently, the town was being destroyed and as one reviewer put it: “a bulldozer razing the town to the ground – to illustrate how the people’s failure to capitalize on their benefactors deliberately short-term donations has resulted in further tragedy.”

Hyenas and America

I found the film particularly interesting for its many references/portrayals of America and American ways.

When Linguere Ramatou returns to her village, “rich as the world bank”, she decides to grant the village an immense but loaded gift.  She agrees to give Colobane 100,000 million dollars in exchange for the killing of the man who courted and impregnated her many years ago, Draman Drameh.  The thought of all this money and the possibility of the lifestyle change that it could bring begins to change the village people.

Draman owns a bar/convenient store in the village.  One of the first changes we see is that people begin to buy items from Draman on credit, an atypical idea for this tiny store.  Two men walk into the “store” talking about how crazy Ramatou’s request is.  One of them makes the comment, “She thinks we’re American who’d kill each other for nothing.”  Soon they realize, that money isn’t “nothing”.  And as the village begins to receive fancy products, materialism grows as does the social commentary on America.

"She think we're Americans who'd kill each other for nothing" (45:10)

"She thinks we're Americans who'd kill each other for nothing" (45:10)

Once Linguere puts a price on Dramaan’s head, the corruptness of the village begins to unfold dramatically. Continue reading