Ceddo (pronounced Ched-doe) is perhaps the most important film that black Africa has produced to date - a national epic that bears the same definitive relationship to its culture that Griffith's The Birth of a Nation, Renoir's La Marseillaise, Mizoguchi's The Taira Clan Saga, or Eisenstein's Potemkin and Alexander Nevsky do to theirs. An exciting political thriller concerning the kidnapping of a beautiful princess is used to examine the confrontation between opposing forces in the face of Moslem expansion. The “Ceddo” - or feudal class of common people - cling desperately to their customs and their fetishistic religion. “You are a palm tree,” one of them accuses the king after his conversion to Islam. “You give no shade to your roots.” Set loosely in the 19th century, Ceddo is not strictly a historical film. It ranges far and wide to include philosophy, fantasy, militant politics, and a couple of electrifying leaps across the centuries: in this, his most ambitious and remarkable film, Sembene is evoking the whole of the African experience.

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