The Criterion Collection calls SOLEIL Ó/ OH, SUN , ‘A furious cry of resistance against racist oppression and a revolutionary landmark of political cinema’. The Celluloid Liberation Front, writing for MUBI, calls it ‘one of the most dazzling debuts in the history of cinema’; ‘A work of erudite formalism and incendiary refinement’; ‘never didactic’. We dispute all of this. The film is definitely, flamboyant, anti-clerical, modernist, anti-colonial, deploying folklore and experimenting with style. An important film then, very much of its time, but which can now seem to lack complexity and subtlety, though perhaps subtlety was never its aim; and perhaps we should also acknowledge that our perspective is that of two white men. Richard appreciated it more than I. We both urge everyone to see it. It’s an interesting companion piece to Ali in Wonderland and Mandabi. We discuss all of this in the accompanying podcast. Part of the series of important restorations being screened on MUBI.
The podcast may be listened to below:
The podcast can also be listened to on Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/show/2zWZ7Egdy6xPCwHPHlOOaT
The film inspired a series of photographs by Kudzanai Chiurai displayed at Tate Modern as part of the World in Common, Contemporary African Photography Exhibition.
José Arroyo & Richard Layne