Runtime: 84 Minutes
Director: Cam Cordon
By Tom Moore
Although Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world that resides just off the southern coast of Africa, is generally regarded by most as the home of lemurs, strong biodiversity, and being the name of one of DreamWorks’ most iconic animated franchises, director Cam Cordon’s new documentary, “Madagasikara”, fleshes out a darker truth about the political and social turmoil that’s not being seen in the country.
The film intertwines telling the stories of three Malagasy women (Tina, Lin, Deborah) that are constantly fighting for the survival of their families in a country full of poverty and political turmoil. On the surface, Madagascar has always been seen as this sort of getaway location with serene beaches and incredible wildlife, but in reality, the Malagasy are living in rundown conditions that have caused malnourishment to be a major cause of death. The way Cordon makes this come across is incredibly striking as he uses more visual elements to show the stark contrast of area.
There’s this great shot that puts the lush green wilderness of Madagascar next to the muddy makeshift villages that people are living in that really symbolizes how drastic their situation has become. Not to mention, when Lin, or anyone else, talks about how much they get paid or how much food costs, Cordon puts up the American value next to it and it really shows how poverty-stricken the people really are or how far just having one dollar can get someone.
The film also contains a deeply human element by delving into the stories of its three central Malagasy women and their efforts in order to survive every day. With no real jobs of sustainable income, it’s incredibly disheartening to see how malnourishment has greatly affected the Malagasy and how they are forced to take on tasks of hard labor in order to earn enough to scrape by.
“As many scenes that depict the hardships and struggles the Malagasy face, there’re just as many moments that will put a smile on your face and instill a sense of hope.”
Watching Tina and her family have to break down and carry rocks all day, even when she’s pregnant, really creates this genuine empathy and understanding of the hardships the Malagasy must go through. Not to mention, the moments of Lin and Deborah, having to sell their bodies is legitimately heartbreaking, especially when hearing Deborah’s story, and really shows the lengths they are forced to go to in order to survive.
Even hearing the impact that the political turmoil has left them in with the three women being unable to attain the same level of education their children get and unable to provide for them after they grow up. However, what makes this depiction unique and genuine is that it never portrays these three women or the Malagasy as weak or that they are hopeless.
As many scenes that depict the hardships and struggles the Malagasy face, there’re just as many moments that will put a smile on your face and instill a sense of hope. Cordon makes the right choices in showing Lin, Tina, and Deborah’s families and how they remain one of the only stable things for them.
Although she has lost children due to malnourishment, Lin still spends time with her children when she can and looks out for their best interests. It’s also uplifting to see how Deborah’s traumatic experience has motivated her to take action and help other young girl from going through the same things. The entire end sequence with Tina and her family also contains this sense of hope with how they remain together and her children getting the kind of education that she wasn’t able to.
“The most shocking aspect of “Madagasikar” isn’t even that the Malagasy are forced to live in such terrible conditions, but rather that their political turmoil unfortunately resembles the same facing the United States currently.”
Honestly, just about every scene with their children really steals your heart with how they have this uplifting spirit and can progress for themselves even with all the issues around them. Not to mention, it shows how determined and caring these three women are as they do everything they can for their children to be able to lead better lives and it’s a shining aspect amidst the dire darkness that’s encapsulating Madagascar – especially in the political sphere.
The most shocking aspect of “Madagasikar” isn’t even that the Malagasy are forced to live in such terrible conditions, but rather that their political turmoil unfortunately resembles the same facing the United States currently. With businessman and CEOs taking on political positions, disrupting voting rights, and putting money ahead of the Malagasy, it’s legitimately scary how similar Madagascar’s political sphere has been to the U.S. and I’d even say that it makes this film more relevant than ever. Even the footage shown from the 2009 protests are horrifying with how timely they are, and it leaves this major impact that makes this film universally relatable.
“Madagasikar” flips the script on what we “think” we know about Madagascar and opens viewers eyes to the terrible conditions, politics, and livelihood that the Malagasy have and currently face. It’s a timely and relevant wake-up call that people need to see and offers an important look at an unfortunately overlooked perspective.
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“Madagasikara” is set to release 26th June via Amazon Prime, followed by a wider digital release on iTunes, Google Play, Films for Action and many more.