Friday, January 23, 2009

Visiting Madagascar on a mobylette

Let me explain, for readers who might not know, that a mobylette is a hugely popular moped (lightweight motorbike) made by the French manufacturer Motobecane. A few decades ago, for countless French teens, particularly in suburban and rural environments, this vehicle was a symbol of emancipation: an initial step towards adult liberty. My son François Skyvington created a book on this theme, presented in a French-language website [display].

In my article of 30 May 2008 entitled Birthday of Moped Man [display], I mentioned that François was working on a documentary film concerning a mobylette excursion to Madagascar. Well, this 52-minute film will be shown on the French channel Voyages at the following dates [Paris time]:

-- Saturday evening, 24 January 2009, 8.40 pm
-- Sunday afternoon, 25 January 2009, 12.50 pm
-- Monday evening, 26 January 2009, midnight
-- Saturday morning, 31 January 2009, 10.30 am

In the latest Télérama weekly, there's a fine review of the film:

Le Monde selon ma mobylette [The World from my Mobylette] by the journalist-photographer-moviemaker François Skyvington is all about roaming through Madagascar at 35 kilometers an hour. In the lazy rhythm of the national route 7, which crosses the island from one end to the other, the rambler takes his time, while sharing with us his conception of the expedition. One can understand why TV channels are attracted to this style of reporting, which is now recurrent. Viewers can easily identify themselves with the journalist-presenter, often more like a tourist than an investigator, who provides them with access to an exotic universe. Obviously, the constant presence of this personage tends to obscure the frontier between a genuine reportage and a simple vacation video, since he stirs up intense admiration for the marvels of the country he is crossing. François Skyvington avoids tactfully all errors of this kind. Admittedly, as soon as he straddles his mobylette, he is filmed from every possible angle, but he also knows how to disappear behind the camera as soon as we have opportunities of observing Madagascan folk. The documentary is composed of short sequences on subjects such as a factory that produces soccer tables, and a sapphire-mining rush that gave rise to population changes. The resulting film does not claim to be a complete and divergent portrait of Madagascar, but it is hard to avoid being carried away by the specific rhythm of this journey.

This review was written in French by Thomas Richet, and I've translated it into English.

1 comment:

  1. How lovely to see you again now...I was looking for Francois' video, searching google, and found your blogspot. I am happy to see you are doing well. I would love to actually see the video but am unable to do so. can you help?

    I just had my second child, Tejas, who is 7 months old. My first, Tara, turns 9 years tomorrow. Time flies.

    Sending you love and best wishes,