The Unforgettable: Soleil O(1970)
Soleil Ô, meaning “Oh, Sun” is a 1970 French-Mauritanian drama film written and directed by Med Hondo.
The title refers to a West Indian song that tells of the pain of the black people from Dahomey (now Benin) who were taken to the Caribbean as slaves.
A native of Mauritania is delighted when he is chosen to work in Paris. However, he is disappointed when he sees racial inequity as blacks are relegated to manual labor while less skilled whites are given preferential treatment.
A black immigrant makes his way to Paris in search of his Gaul ancestors. The immigrants desperately seek work and a place to live, but find themselves face to face with indifference, rejection, and humiliation, before heeding the final call for uprising.
The film played during International Critics’ Week at the 1970 Cannes Film Festival, where it received critical acclaim. It received a Golden Leopard award at the 1970 Locarno International Film Festival.
In his Family Guide to Movies on Video, Henry Herx wrote that the film’s “use of ironic humor and lively music keeps the plight of the black emigrant worker from becoming totally depressing.”
In The New Yorker, Richard Brody wrote that “Making friends among France’s white population, [the main character] finds their empathy condescending and oblivious, and his sense of isolation and persecution raises his identity crisis to a frenzied pitch. Hondo offers a stylistic collage to reflect the protagonist’s extremes of experience, from docudrama and musical numbers to slapstick absurdity, from dream sequences and bourgeois melodrama to political analyses.”
|Directed by||Med Hondo|
|Written by||Med Hondo|
|Edited by||Michèle Masnier|
|Music by||George Anderson|
|Distributed by||USA: New Yorker Films|
|Release dates||May 1970 (Cannes)4 January 1973 (France)|
|Running time||98 minutes|