16 October 2010 | bebop63-1
Love Conquers All...Well, Almost
Having just finished reading The White Masai in paperback, I waited in anticipation of getting the DVD from the local library, albeit with some trepidations, knowing that film adaptations of books don't always follow true to the written work. That is certainly the case with this one. Firstly, why the change of names of the characters in the book - from Corinne to Carola, Lketinga to Lemalian, Napirai to Sarai, etc? Everyone who has read the book will know the characters anyway no matter what their names are. Also, there seem to be some vital points in the book that were not depicted in the movie. The novel extensively describes how Corinne's physical health was greatly affected from having to live in near-primitive conditions with nil in basic amenities like proper drinking water and sanitation, tropical diseases and inadequate diet. Doesn't it seem incongruous that in the movie this doesn't seem to be the case with Carola - she emerges from the hut cum loveshack each day fresh as a newly-budded rose, skin aglowing & hair shining like gold in the morning sun? She merely appears to be in a reality TV tour group rather than having assimilated herself into the tribe. It would certainly have helped to have a Westernized educated Samburu character to help bridge the (communication) gap between Carola and Lemalian, which in the book would have been James (Lketinga's brother). That said, the bottom line that both book and film raise is: can two people of contrastingly different cultures live together in harmony and genuine affection? How much is one prepared to sacrifice in the name of love? The film is aware of all these questions but does not give a definite answer - it all remains up to the viewer to put himself/herself in the heroine's shoes and ask "would I have done the same as Carola? Would I give up all the creature comforts of life that I've known and been accustomed to and live in woop-woop with a man I hardly know from a totally alien background?"
While the movie does portray non-whites in a more positive light than other movies with a similar theme, it continues the long history of inequivocal relations between whites and blacks in general and it concludes that the Africans have been and always will be culturally inferior to whites. Even though the film is sympathetic to the Samburu people and evidently shows how naive and clueless as far as cultural sensitivities go with Carola, it's telling her side of the story. It would be very interesting indeed if the movie would be (re)made from Lemalian's point of view, but alas that is just a pipe dream.