Slavery As Comedy? Watch Trailer For French Farce "Case Départ"

by Tambay A. Obenson
May 5, 2011 5:27 AM
16 Comments
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Speaking of Django Unchained...

I just came across a trailer for this French time travel flick titled Case Départ, which I believe translates as Return To The Start (or Beginning).

I couldn't find any English-language write-ups for it, so, the synopsis that follows is a Google translation - I just copied the French synop and dumped into Google's translation application, and then made adjustments so it all makes some sense: Half-brothers, Joel and Régis, have a father in common, whom they hardly know. Joel is unemployed and miserable. He feels France is a racist country, and is that the government is to blame for all his failures, because he's black, and uses that as an excuse for not actively looking for work. Régis, on the other hand, loves France, and essentially hates his black self, and blackness in general, refusing to acknowledge his African slave roots. In his words, delinquency and immigration go hand in hand. Both are soon called to the bedside of their dying father in the Antilles, when they are presented with a document that contains information on their ancestral slave heritage - a document that has been passed down through the generations. In trying to determine the value of the document, they accidentally destroy it - an act that they are punished for for by a mysterious old woman, who has been following them since their arrival in the Antilles; the punishment being to send them back in time, all the way to, of course, the Transatlantic slavery period - 1780 specifically - where and when they are sold as slaves. The two brothers then have to work together to find a way to not only escape from the plantation, but also to find a way to return to the present day.

I probably missed something here and there, but I think that just about describes the film.

It's a comedy by the way... I can't immediately recall any movies that have dealt with this specific subject matter in a comedic way.

The film stars Thomas Ngijol and Fabrice Eboué as the 2 half-brothers. The pair also wrote the screenplay. Lionel Steketee directed the film.

The movie will be out in theaters in France on July 6th; I wouldn't expect to see it travel west, but ya never know.

Watch the wacky trailer below, and if you can add anything to what I've already written here, please enlighten us:


Case Départ (2011) Trailer by Afro-Style-Communication

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16 Comments

  • ethan | June 29, 2011 6:33 AMReply

    Afro-descendant from Martinique ( a little french Island) refused to make this movie on their island, respect to people from Marinique !!!

    this movie raises a lot of controversy , people talk about boycott this farce !

  • marvin | June 29, 2011 6:19 AMReply

    How dare this guys can make a comedy about slavery?

    Any plans to make a educational and historic movie is refused and Thoses guys make a comedy about slavery?

    Blacks in France have no visibilty, while there there are great black french comedians

    In France blacks are only good for making buffons, security-guard or sports.

    France is ashamed of its colonial past history and do not want face its past.

    Slavery is absent from school, there is no study of about this period.

    These guys are two puppet who insult the history of slaves!!!

  • monique from france | June 28, 2011 9:25 AMReply

    AH AH AH AH this is laughable right? Im writing you from France,and this movie explains why Black people in France are so insulted!these two crazy niggas made fun on slavery!you have to realise that France is a racist country,black people dont have a good place in this society,and we are not considered as victims for slavery!aint funny,and we in france,are going to contest about this movie which is a shame for our community! they were many movies about the jewish people,but any french-jewish actor or actress dared to make fun on shoah! no one!cause they are respected!im disgusted

  • jezine olondo | May 29, 2011 7:39 AMReply

    I think that's its pretty interesting that people can joke around a bit about slavery. I grew up in Paris and been living in NYC for the past 8 years and i know how it is back in France. The trailer put a smile on my face and the jokes are ok but the reason i will support this is because they are young African brothers being productive and making moves in a country where opportunities for minorities are limited. Living in America has opened many doors for me, I am a young African entrepreneur with the ambition to become a director. I am currently working on 3 major projects that will be released at the end of 2011. Thanks for Bringing European news to light in America - much appreciated!

  • PJ Ismyname | May 24, 2011 3:18 AMReply

    This looks like an interesting movie, kind of a comedy-dramady, and I hope it DOES come to the U.S someday, with subtitles so I can enjoy it, too. I'm Black, proud, and all that goes with it, and I see nothing wrong with this movie. Comedy OFTEN makes light of situations that are very serious- heartache, addictions, racism, and injustices of many varieties. .Just think of any of the socially conscious comics from the past like Richard Pryor or George Carlin. What they talked about was not "funny", yet they presented hard reality in a humorous way.

  • kim jarrett | May 24, 2011 2:50 AMReply

    Americans considered the Broadway Play Purlie funny in the 70's. Slightly different types of jokes, but, still turned slavery into comedy.

  • Edouard | May 24, 2011 2:06 AMReply

    I give you my french perspective, for what it's worth :

    I didn't see the movie yet but from the trailer you can say the movie is moking everybody : people of african decent who don't know/ care about their history (or even refuse to assume it like the light skin character), and the classification of races that led up to the triangle trade and the enslavement of black people, historical facts that some people tend to forget in France.

    Movies talking about dark moments of french history often lead to useless controversies, like Les Indigènes, a movie about the war of independance between Algeria and France. The director was accused of being anti-french because of the way he depicted these events and I think a lot people didn't see the movie because of that (didn't Spike Lee had the same king of trouble ?)

    Talking about slavery in a comedy seems like a very clever trick to me, it can open eyes without being confrontational. If you're only heard by people already convinced, what's the point ?

    For all these reasons, I don't think this movie is a kind of minstrell show. IMO

  • guenolla | May 6, 2011 10:41 AMReply

    One more thing, both Thomas Ngijol and Fabrice Eboué, the main protagonists wrote the screenplay, they are very successful comedians and tv personalities in France, and as you can all see they are Black. So I do not think it's all about white people having too much fun at our expense, I see it as POSITIVE self-criticism, they are black and they have made it so other Black people should THINK instead of blaming society for their lack of success. We just have to be stronger and work harder in order to succeed!!!

  • guenolla | May 6, 2011 10:31 AMReply

    Nothing wrong about this film. I am French and originally from Overseas department (French Guiana). "Case depart" to begin with means:"Where it begins" so really judging by the trailer it is a very good way for one of the two brother to know where HE comes from. There is this need for people coming from overseas department to distance themselves from Africa, just like in the UK where I reside you have this separation between Caribeans and Africans. It is easier in films to expose shameful matters through comedy, at least this is how we deal with it in French. A film like "La Cage aux folles" for instance dealt with the gay issue in a parodic way. This film uses stereotypes which is usually the foundation of the comedic genre. The faire skin brother is integrated and loves White people hates Africans or anyone that's darker than he is. He also thinks all Africans should go back to African, annihilating his African "heritage", on the other hand the dark skin brother is up to no good and instead of making it for himself and trying hard to succeed he leads some sort of outlaw lifestyle and blame everything that happens to him on racism. I think this will be a very positive film for us Black French if watched positively, the message seems to be YES there is racism in France but if you try your best YOU CAN overcome it and make a MUCH brighter future for yourself. Also do what you want but in France live like the French, if you are happy to benefit from everything that's on offer you also have to adhere with the country's rules! Don't only take advantages and behave like you are due something, do something for yourself, you will be given if you give back!
    The latter point is something many Black people seem to forget, this is the society we are living in YOU GIVE SO YOU CAN RECEIVE... I think this film can be positive and interesting, a wake up call.
    Peace all!

  • truth | May 6, 2011 9:22 AMReply

    White people have 2 much fun at our expense

  • JMac | May 6, 2011 5:18 AMReply

    Actually this looks like a great movie to me and looks like it will be handled the right way - funny with depth. Hope it comes out on DVD. Sounds like a light-hearted Octavia Butler story.

  • T'Challa | May 5, 2011 7:29 AMReply

    I can't translate the whole thing but the funniest part was where the dude with the war paint was like "Are you ready to free your brothers?" Everyone else: "Yeah!", War Paint guy: "Are you ready to kill all the Whites?" and the one light skin dude is like "Noooo!" LMAOF.

  • Elhaq | May 5, 2011 7:14 AMReply

    It doesn't seem like this is comedy without heart and lessons I wish I understood French. I hoPe someone subtitles of dubs the film even for DVD. I want to see this bad becaus I think it'll teach something. Any French speakers out there want to help us with our impression if the film? What're the saying? Damn american education, I need more languages.

  • Dr Slick | May 5, 2011 7:13 AMReply

    I laughed out loud.

  • Jug | May 5, 2011 7:02 AMReply

    For real, this is just BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE set during slavery. I didn't find it offensive like THE SECRET DIARY OF DESMOND PFEIFFER, which seemed to say "Slavery was funny, get over it"

    Question: Am I gonna get my black card revoked if I laughed during the trailer? :-P LOL

  • Jug | May 5, 2011 6:57 AMReply

    Even in French, I know when somebody says "What's up my Niggaaaa!" LMBAO

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