After I read La Noire de… (Black Girl) by Sembene Ousmane in my French lit class, I had to see the movie. This story encompasses many important themes that must be brought to light in order to try and empathize with the array of unfortunate situations that are endured everyday by immigrants.
In his pioneering 1966 film, Black Girl, the great Senegalese author and director, Ousmane Sembene, explores the complex dynamics of the immediate post-colonial period through the simple, devastating story of a Senegalese servant, Diouana (Mbissine Thérèse Diop), and her relationship to the unnamed French couple (Anne Marie Jelinek and Robert Fontaine) who employ her. Sembene reverses the Eurocentric convention where the French characters are those who are individualized and the colonized represent their group.
The film begins with a ship arriving in a harbor in southern France carrying Diouana who has been invited by the couple to rejoin them. In Dakar, before Senegalese independence, she worked for them as a nanny and expects to do the same work in Antibes. She had heard wonderful stories about the colonial motherland. In the flashbacks that take place in Dakar before her emigration, she is ecstatic about her upcoming trip. She talks of the shops and the new fashionable clothes she will buy. She imagines that her relatives will die of envy when they think of her living in France. She soon finds out that the couple can no longer afford the many servants they had in Africa and she is expected to be an all-purpose maid as well as a nanny. Her life is a dreary routine of cleaning and cooking in their small apartment, and she is driven to desperation.