Movie Review: ‘Jajouka, Something Good Comes to You,’ a Band’s Tale

August 6th, 2013


Ahmed Ettalha in “Jajouka, Something Good Comes to You.” The film, set in Morocco, is part documentary and part fiction.

“You woke me with your dreams,” the goatskin-wearing deity Boujeloud says to the Moroccan shepherd Attar in “Jajouka, Something Good Comes to You.” “With the music of your dreams! I want to hear it again,” the Pan-like figure implores.

Directed by the brothers Eric and Marc Hurtado (who are both in the music group ?tant Donn?s), this hybrid film — part mythic fiction and part music documentary — tells the story of the Master Musicians of Jajouka, a band from that Moroccan village whose members are said to have descended from that ancient shepherd. The band’s current leader, Bachir Attar, plays his ancestor in the re-creation of their origin story. Other musicians perform their jubilant, complex melodies in the film, yet these performances are folded into the fictional tale of Boujeloud, which is the basis for an ancient fertility rite and a major festival in Jajouka.

The author William S. Burroughs once called the Master Musicians of Jajouka a “4,000-year old rock band.” The influence of their swirling, transcendent rhythms and incessant beats can be heard most popularly in the music of the Rolling Stones: Charlie Watts is seen playing a Jajouka drum in the Jean-Luc Godard film “Sympathy for the Devil,” and it was Brian Jones who helped popularize the music of Jajouka with an album he recorded there. With their lyrics, costumes and personas, the Rolling Stones created a legend behind their sound. The Hurtados do the same through fiction in their daring documentary.

With incredible yellow and pink sunlight, in a setting of fig leaves and white stucco, the film’s strange mixture of primitive and poetic images becomes etched into memory. Weaving observation and a shared dream state, this is an intuitive and intricate exploration into the feeling of sound.

Jajouka, Something Good

Comes to You

Opens on Tuesday in Manhattan.

Directed by Eric and Marc Hurtado; written by Eric Hurtado; directors of photography, Eric and Marc Hurtado; edited by Justine Hiariart, Deborah Mlockier and Eric and Marc Hurtado; music by Bachir Attar and the Master Musicians of Jajouka; produced by Atopic Production. At the Roy and Niuta Titus Theaters, Museum of Modern Art. In Arabic and French, with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour 2 minutes. This film is not rated.

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