1981 [ARABIC]

Documentary / Music

Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 76%
IMDb Rating 6.7 10 566


Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN
August 31, 2022 at 01:06 AM

Top cast

822.24 MB
Arabic 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 29 min
P/S 16 / 23

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Camoo 10 / 10

The universal message of music

Saw a newly restored print of this film, the first film restored by Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Foundation, and I understand why it was chosen to spearhead the project.

Apparently Scorsese saw this film on TV in the 80's when editing the King of Comedy and was transfixed by it, and went out of his way to track down the makers of the film and the print. The restored print is pristine, and the film itself sublime. It follows the path of one of Morocco's most famous bands during a period of strife in that country. It's made with an abstract and non linear narrative, and crafted like a poem. We hear the gentle voices of the musicians, who carry universal messages about love and unity peppered between many wonderful scenes of music and performances. Indeed watching it puts you in a trance like state, much like the audiences in the film.

An integral documentary.

Reviewed by ElMaruecan82 9 / 10

A (Musical) Trip Back to the Moroccan Roots...

If you look at the world as a huge forest, globalization makes us feel like trees with expanding and branches intersecting with other branches from other trees, so at the end, you don't even know to which tree they belong... the only way to tell is to go the other way down.

And I guess that you can never know who you are without looking at your roots... acknowledging them, and more than anything valuing them... and Watching a documentary like Ahmed El Maânouni's "Trances" was a salutary experience; because every once in a while, I need to remember the meaning of username.

I need to remember that I come from a country of millenary history that dates back to the Berber and the Roman civilization and that underwent many influences from Saharan tribes, Arabs, Mediterranean conquerors and African tribes from which we inherited the 'Gnawa' tradition and the trance music.

I need to remember that globalization is positive in the way it makes us feel like forming a united whole but it's meaningless if you don't know what 'part' of that whole you represent. And that it took the endorsement from Martin Scorsese to make me discover that gem was revealing about my own ignorance.

Of course, the name Nass-El-Ghiwane rings a bell to every North African, but being aware of some songs is one thing and being capabl to experience each lyric, each percussion, each banjo plunk and feeling like your body is taken to another dimension is something that even a lifetime of cultural re-appropriation can't achieve.

You can't cheat with their music. Those who danced to their songs, who joined them on-stage, who were in that state of trance, young and old, men and women, were no professional actors, their reaction was authentic and genuine and you could tell so because they never cared about the camera. When I listen to Nass-El-Ghiwane, I can feel the music but if a camera was on me, I would probably restrain myself.

Ten years ago, the company I worked for invited the group for a special occasion, I remember almost everybody was dancing to their music and my boss with a few colleagues of her were in trance. I thought they were overplaying it and naturally, I couldn't even dance. Now I know I was the one whose soul became too rational, maybe too much impregnated by globalized or standardized music, I don't mean that negatively, but "Trances" made me realize that I denied a big part of my own DNA, to the point that I have no right to claim to be a Moroccan.

"Trances" echoed a similarly regretful reaction I had with the more celebrated "Woodstock" after which I wished that my generation could have lived such an experience. "Trances" also deals with the lost youth that didn't need Hendrix or Joplin when they found in the lyrics of the late Larbi Batma, Omar Sayed, Abderhaman Paco and Allal Yaali and of course, the dead-too-soon-icon Boujemâa. the resonance of their own cries. The timeless hit song "Siniya", which means the 'tray' is a metaphor for "sharing" and a nostalgic hymn to a time were friendship, comradery and family weren't just values but social pillars.

Nass-El-Ghiwane were called the Rolling Stones of North Africa (the group was notorious for being fans of their music) but the Stones, like any other Occidental performers, made songs of three, four, maybe minutes... five minutes was the time it took for Nass-El-Ghiwane to get to the chorus. Their songs told stories, they had introductions with eloquence that drained inspiration from Arab poets, melodies as penetrative as 'Sufi' prayers and then their climaxes could last for minutes where I don't even think the players had any control of the reach of their voices or the beatings they were stimulating... until an orgasmic musical knock-out.

And I guess this is why the documentary is made in a way that matches their artistic talent, to the point it should have been a contender for many awards. On Youtube, you'll find many TV archive footages of the group, and the videos are nothing like Maânouni's work. Heswings back and forth between the group and the audience, to emphasize their symbiosis. The film is also full of close-ups on the focused eyes of Paco, the 'peaceful tension' in Batma or Yaali, the sweat on Sayed, showing how psychologically and emotionally involved and dedicated to their art they were. And even the instruments get their close-ups, how could a music that sounded sometimes like guitar electric chords could be fully acoustic, even Scorsese couldn't believe his ears!

And as if he was carried away by the group's freedom of expression, Maânouni doesn't just let "Trances" be a simple concert film but keeps the form free, almost experimental, with many interviews, recorded conversations, and shots on the Moroccan street and the people... as if he was aware that his film would also be a snapshot of an era soon to be lost... an era still influenced by the oral traditions, the myths and legends that built Moroccan folklore and forged the mainstay of Nass-El-Ghiwane's inspiration.

Indeed, they belonged to a generation mainly influenced by Arab music, convincing some artists to join national orchestras and spend their careers playing songs they never created. But one of the founding members Boujemâa (dead in 1974) convinced Sayed to join the troop of another artistic icon Tayeb Seddiqui, and like troubadours, door-to-door chanters and political theater a long time ago, they sung songs of social relevance and entertainment value. Little did they know their music would have an effect far more transcending than entertainment.

The group created songs that penetrated people's minds, hearts and bodies. It is Moroccan 'soul' music indeed, and it's no surprising that a director so concerned about the themes of soul, guilt and redemption could be so sensitive to the lyrics and power of Nass-el-Ghiwane. It is musical poetry at its finest.

Reviewed by amaldeen 10 / 10

The path of the most famous Moroccan music band

From one of the popular corners of the city of Casablanca in morocco the "Hay Mohammadi" area emerged a band full of spirit and fond of sacred and sublime music. The most known band of its time emerged to make generations live in trance. "Nass El Ghiwan" is a group of youth eager to produce art, living in trance with their art, and making their fan live in trance with their music.

The movie starts with a ride on a car around the neighborhoods where the youth has first met and decided to make a band with "Larbi Batma", "Omar Sayed", " Abdelaziz Tahiri", then "Abderrahmane Paco". The movie shows "Nass El Ghiwan" animating a successful concert in Tunisia and at the same time switch to show flashes of their personality throw some aspects of their life. The band still remembers "Boujmii" who died some time ago, but still has his existence in the memory of his colleagues and fans. They dedicated the concert to "Boujmii" as an acknowledgment to his contribution to "Nass El Giwane". Tunisian fans seem very overwhelmed by the rhythm and the lyrics, repeating the songs and dancing.

Before forming a band, each member's fondness of music prevented him from a former way he had once followed in life; music seems to be in their blood. They are together inventing their music…or, each one by himself seeking new rhythms.

Like a documentary presenting the biography of "Nass El Ghiwane" band, there are moments in this movie when each person talks about his feelings, expectations, why he chose to become an artist, and all the answers refer to the fact that they are born with that passion inside, which wasn't to be manifested otherwise except by producing art.

The Moroccan Beatles have created an irresistible atmosphere thanks to the very traditional Moroccan instruments of music they use like "bendir", "banjo", "tarija", " da'dou' " and " darbouka". This is what makes their music very Moroccan and special, in addition to the contribution of each element of the band who brought his own spirit and origins to that music. So, we can find an amalgamation between Gnawi, Berber, Ita, Malhoun, etc…the topics of their songs are political, religious, social, and rebellious.

This movie is full of nostalgia; it is very simple but very close to heart. Watching this movie, I felt how serious are "Nass El Giwane", and how much they loved their music to make it so original. Casablanca city as the main scene of action looks able to swallow all the varieties, differences and contradictions to produce "Nass El Ghiwane" legend.

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