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trances

Some more Moroccan cinema... 'Trances' ('Al-Hal', 1981) is a vintage documentary about the legendary group 'Nass El Ghiwane'. Formed in the late '60s in Casablanca, the band revitalized traditional Moroccan music by mixing different influences - notably the Sufi chants of gnawa - and adding contemporary lyrics.

As modern-day troubadours in a country only recently independent, they combined timeless music and poetry to speak out about oppression and injustice. Besides concerts and interviews, the film contains historic footage of Morocco as well as unique Essaouira gnawa sessions.

Martin Scorsese has cited the film as a source of inspiration for 'The Last Temptation of Christ' and its soundtrack by Peter Gabriel.

What you see here is a mix of the poetry, the music and the theatre that goes way back to the roots of the Moroccan culture. And I think the group was singing damnation: their people, their beliefs, their sufferings and their prayers all came through their singing.

All but forgotten, 'Trances' was restored in 2007 by Scorsese's World Cinema Foundation. The Auteurs, a great online film library, is offering the film for free.

Recommended:

heaven's doors

Heaven's Doors ('Abwab ul-Jinnah', 2006), the feature debut of the brothers Swel and Imad Noury, has been called "absurdly ambitious". Which it certainly is - creating a kind of Moroccan ' Amores Perros ' with three interlocking s… Read the full post »

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