As the MACA prison gates open, the protagonist of the Ivorian representative at the 2021 Academy Awards (breaking into the top 15) is setting foot in a new world. So did the audience, who soon discovered that Night of the Kings offered one of the year’s most unique storytelling methods. A heightened realism that raises the power of the storytelling process.
Written by the director himself, Philippe Lacôte, Night of the Kings designed MACA as a place, which, despite its appearance no different from most prisons, operates like a fairy tale. The prisoner is in control, with one figure having the title Dangôro, ruling like a king. Blackbeard (Steve Tientcheu) is the current Dangôro. There was a rule, if Dangôro fell ill and was deemed too weak to lead, he had to commit suicide so that the throne could be given to the successor. Top Movie Site
Although at first glance it seems intimidating, Blackbeard’s health condition has deteriorated, including having to carry oxygen cylinders wherever he goes. But he refused to give up. In a final attempt to maintain power, Blackbeard appoints our protagonist, a new prisoner (Bakary Koné) to become Roman, who is tasked with telling the story in front of all the prisoners, as the red moon lights up the night. Not even one day in prison, the moment arrives, forcing Roman to form a story suddenly.
Of course, Roman can’t just talk, especially after Silence, the only white resident who always carries a chicken (Denis Lavant plays the role of … Denis Lavant), reveals secrets, which makes this storytelling activity like a death-defying battle. Put simply, Lacôte conveyed how powerful “telling” (or “the sharpness of the tongue”) can determine a person’s life and death. Best Movie
Although at first it halted, Roman finally found the foundation of his story, which is about Zama King, a famous criminal and chairman of the Microbes gang where Roman joins. He recently died due to the anger of the masses, but Roman’s story is not only about Zama’s death, it also penetrates his childhood, since he grew up in the era of the kingdom.
Filled with fantasy elements, Roman fairy tales sound the most interesting when the magic is left to the imagination of the audience, rather than actually showing the action of witchcraft battles like the third act, which appears rather ridiculous, including the consequences of perfunctory CGI. On the other hand, when we see a scene similar to reality but narrated hyperbolically like a fable, that’s where the film is able to hypnotize.
Especially when the occasional story is interrupted by prisoners singing, speaking like an actor playing a Shakespearean play on stage, or theatrical dances visualizing a Roman narrative. Through these elements Lacôte’s directing manages to establish a magical, once again, hypnotic tone. As if, that night the prisoners did not just gather to hear stories, but carried out rituals. The world of Night of the Kings is so unique and interesting, that viewers may complain about the lack of exploration of the mythology of the setting. Why did Roman have to tell stories during the Red Moon? Why was it considered important in maintaining the Dangôro’s power?
Time passed, and Roman was required to continue the story, so he was confused about how to close it. Ironically, Lacôte experienced a similar condition. Reaching the final point, as if Lacôte ran out of ideas, then chose generic conclusions that seemed to be easy. But even that feeble ending can’t afford to weaken the power behind the uniqueness of Night of the Kings. One of the freshest forms of storytelling in recent times. Movie Review