Cinema: The Wretched of the Earth

The Atlantic has been aptly described as a river; the earth as a contracting ball. Thus when a tribe of primitives suddenly surfaces in a magazine or a movie, it comes first as a shock and then as a consolation. The century is not quite so pervasive as it seemed; somewhere, time has stopped.

For the villagers in Ramparts of Clay, yesterday, today and tomorrow are one. The muezzin's chant, the shepherd's flock, the inexorable rhythms of the desert—all seem to have been delivered whole from the verses of the Koran. In Director Jean-Louis...

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