France/Senegal, 2012, 86 minutes, Colour.
Directed by Alain Gomis.
There is a prologue about death, the sense of death and death coming on. This is a film about death, taking place over one day, the last day of Satche’s life.
The setting is Senegal, the director from Senegal, filming in Dakar. The film presupposes Senegalese customs and religious beliefs and practices, the expectations of the death of a chosen one, their finally being with the gods, a sacrifice validated by animal sacrifice.
Satche is played by American musician and poet, Saul Williams.
Satche is a middle-aged man who has studied in America. Now, he wakes one morning, the last day of his life, the chosen one. He is feted in his mother’s house, elders, family and guests acclaim him as he wakes and processes through the house. A cow is slaughtered. For the rest of the day, Satche meets friends and acquaintances, reliving the happiness of his past with his friends and with his uncles and the gurus, with the man who will tend his dead body. His friends clash and he offers peace. Others condemn him for what he has not done in his life, branding him a weak and bullied man. He meets a fashionable woman who tempts him with memories of a past rejection. He takes a taxi ride but avoids the public gathering in his honour. He spends the last part of his day with his family, playing with his children while his wife who seems to be too busy to be with him, but who finally sits with him, communing with and loving him.
There are no explicit explanations of why Satche must die. Rather, we have to gauge by the overview of his life and the comments of friends what his life has meant.
1. A drama from Africa? Senegal, philosophy, religion, African lore?
2. The Senegalese locations, the city of Dakar, the homes, streets? Authentic? Musical score, African melodies and songs?
3. The initial information about death, death creeping up and pervading a person?
4. The title, Satche’s day? The initial premonition?
5. The day itself, Satche opening his eyes, waking, no words, dressing, coming out, being greeted by the family, the celebration, the ceremonial, the sacrifice of the oxen? The blood sacrifice?
6. Satche and his friends, the trip, going downtown, their arguments and his having to separate them? The happy memories? The beginning of unhappy memories?
7. Going to his uncle, seeking his advice, the elder of the family?
8. The funeral man, the preparation for the funeral?
9. The variety of friends, the type of man Satche was in the past? His going to America to study? His return?
10. The various people criticising Satche, the critique of his life?
11. Going to see the woman he once loved, turned down, her taunting and tempting?
12. His decision to avoid the public meeting and the ceremonial?
13. Going to his wife, her continuing her housework, eventually settling down, talking with him?
14. Playing with his children – and the glimpse of them ten years on and their future?
15. Satche and the assessment of his life, the good and the bad? With his wife, going to bed, his death?
16. A poetic meditation on life, lives ending, the nature of death? Facing death?