July 04, 2005

Yarefed Guzo

My wife and I watched an Amharic language film last night titled, “Yarefed Guzo”. I don’t know what that means and I didn’t think to ask my wife before this post. We rented it to add some variety to our rentals of, “Alien versus Predator”, a commingling of two classic science-fiction series, which came out not too bad, and “The Perfect Score”, a story about students who feel so much pressure they try to steal the SAT scores. Both good flicks.

Although I can’t translate “Yarefed Guzo”, it was engaging, if a bit sad. The story follows a young girl who wants to be a singer to which her uncle and aunt do not approve. She runs away to the city to live with her brother who, it turns out, had previously run away to pursue his career in the music business. At the same time, the movie follows the story of a jilted lover, who happens to be a music producer.

The two groups are brought together at an Azmari Bet (local singing bar) one evening. The music is going well and the brother stops to talk to the music producer. While they are talking, a drunken Azmari Bet goer approaches the girl and slaps her on the butt, all out of view of the brother. Agitated, the girl steps outside, a predictably bad decision. The man follows, and she runs off. Somehow he ends up behind her in a side alley and rapes her.

The brother, realizing that his sister has disappeared from the premises, runs outside to find her. He sees her lying on the ground, unconscious, and the guilty man next to her. He throws a powerful punch and the next thing we learn the rapist is dead.

The plot twists don’t end there. The brother is taken to jail and it turns out falsely because the son of the rapist was in the bar at the same and either out of shame or loathing for his father, he strangles him when the singer’s brother is not looking. I apologize for giving away the plot to anyone who hasn’t seen the flick yet. Meanwhile, the sister is taken into the care of the music producer. Although the producer continues to pursue the other girl, he slowly forms a new love for the girl he is taking care of. As he loses interest in his first love, the first love slowly begins to fall in love with him, even reflecting at one point on how she imagined their marriage.

Plot twist 3. It turns out the raped girl becomes pregnant. She doesn’t tell her new love, which would have probably saved her much grief. Instead, and this baffled me, she goes to the music producer’s original love for help. In the end, she does not get an abortion and steals away to her village, only to find that they don’t want her back either. Though she considers committing suicide, even standing at one point on a cliff edge over a lake, she is saved by a peasant girl who agrees to take her into her home to help her with the pregnancy.

Meanwhile, the brother and music producer have decided to come after her. When they can’t find her, everyone is upset. Finally, the music producer and she meet. As they are sitting at the base of the tree, the final plot intrigue is revealed. It turns out that the music producer was very upset when he learned that she gave the child away. When he was young, he was a football player. One day while playing, he was kicked in the groin by another player. Although he felt pain, he didn’t immediately see a doctor and when he finally did, they were able to relieve the pain, but informed him that he would never be able to have kids. So that’s why he wanted to keep the baby, regardless of who the father was.

The girl didn’t concede, but that’s where the movie closes. Although I found the explanation of the music producer’s sterility a bit amusing, it was an entertaining movie, at least to see a new perspective on Ethiopian culture. Additionally amusing was how outtakes were tacked on to the end of this really sad movie. Actors blowing lines and laughing at the camera, people entering on incorrect cues, sad moments that couldn’t be kept as such. I’d seen outtakes previously at the end of comedies, but on a drama it seemed to lighten the mood. Actually, I liked it because it helped me step out of the sad reality rather quickly.

This is only my second Ethiopian language film, but my wife pointed out that most of them have tragic components. In the two I’ve seen, this certainly holds true.


Blogger rygh said...

Well, some prelim numbers are out for the election. And the government is still in the lead even though by the CUD and UEDF merging to a coalition govt, they will have about equal votes. Doesn't that still mean that the existing govt will remain in power, but with a balanced parliament? How do the people in Ethiopia, and Addis feel about this, are they accepting of it? Do you think the election board is legitimate?

10:56 AM  
Blogger Alemayehu said...

I will order that DVD soon but it is "Yerefede Guzo" and not "Yarefed Guzo". Meaning, "Late journey".

5:21 PM  

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