Launched on Saturday, April 2, 2011 at the Alliance Franco-Camerounaise in Buea, Cameroon, The Wedding Corpse Smiles is a film directed by Nji Derick and produced by Beatrice T. Suh which comes to enrich the Cameroon movie landscape. Attended by more than three hundred guests and movie lovers, Mathew Takwi reviews the Film, and his review is presented in its entirety for readers of The Entrepreneur NewsOnline.
''The Wedding Corpse Smiles demonstrates a typical African society caught in its own throes of traditional and cultural values and practices which must not only be kept but must also be respected and withheld to the letter. A synoptic presentation of the major issues raised, the manner by which they have been raised and the validity of their being raised at all in the third millennium, will quickly wet our appetite to grab copies of this film.....It is important at this juncture for one to find out what the lessons are that the viewers get from watching The Wedding Corpse Smiles. How is tradition conflicting with modernization? Are basic universal human rights being respected in this third millennium? Is the African society adamant to positive change? What is the fate of the African girl child in society? These and more are the burning issues you should find answers for, by watching the film keenly.'''
REVIEW OF THE FILM: THE WEDDING CORPSE SMILES BY MATHEW TAKWI, ON THE OCCASION OF ITS LAUNCH IN ALLIANCE FRANCO- CAMEROUNAISE BUEA:
SATURDAY, 2 APRIL 2011.
Title of film: The Wedding Corpse Smiles
Script (story): Chop Samuel
Director: Nji Derick
Production House: Kena Production
Executive Producer: Suh Beatrice
Film Industry: Collywood
Number of sequences (parts): Two parts
Duration: One hour each
Reviewer: Mathew Takwi, Poet Laureate & Playwright, Secretary General of the Anglophone Cameroon Writers’ Association (ACWA)
Introduction: The Cameroon film industry Collywood is once again on the rostrum of cinema with its new baby baptized: The Wedding Corpse Smiles. A film set in the village of Kouck found in the North-West Region of Cameroon, with its beautiful savannah, running rivers and streams and appealing mountain ranges, the likes of Switzerland, the film also stars regular names in the said industry in Anglophone Cameroon films such as Tangyie Suh-Nfor, Menget John, Chop Samuel, Suh Beatrice, Muma Roland, Vugar Samson, Ndeh Christian, just to name but these.
The film: The Wedding Corpse Smiles demonstrates a typical African society caught in its own throes of traditional and cultural values and practices which must not only be kept but must also be respected and withheld to the letter. A synoptic presentation of the major issues raised, the manner by which they have been raised and the validity of their being raised at all in the third millennium, will quickly wet our appetite to grab copies of this film, sit still and watch as well as digestive the messages there from. The viewers are also baffled by such questions as: What makes a corpse to smile? How does it look like when a corpse smiles? How can a corpse wed? Etc. These are some of the exciting questions that will provoke the viewers’ anxiety and inquisition as soon as they start watching the film.
Synopsis of the film
The Wedding Corpse Smiles, depicts a Kouck village society almost torn morally to pieces by the presence of Fang, the orphan bastard who is accused of dating women indiscriminately in the village be they married or not, and who has now fallen in love with Nepi the youngest of seven daughters of Pa Pendong a polygamous elder in the village, much to her father’s chagrin who had already received bride price from the Eighty years old Pa Pertsung just when Nepi was born.
The entire village is against Nepi’s love affair with Fang to such a point that when Nepi’s father Pa Pendong finds her and her boy friend in each other’s arms after a swimming expedition, he raises an alarm that his daughter has been defied in front of him. This is an abomination for it is both fornication and adultery that have been committed. This brings the whole village to the scene and Fang is almost killed but for the timely intervention of Nepi’s mother Ma Nepi, who arrives with ground itchy grass in powder form and blows it out to the crowd, which then disperses them. Ma Nepi is now able to escort Fang and Nepi to the border river so they could escape from being killed in the village, and for doing this, she is judged by the elders and sentenced to six months in the palace prison where she is impregnated by the one of the Fon’s nchindas and she gives birth to baby girl. This news is broken to Pa Pendong by his first wife Ma Njang. But her shucked husband manages like a manly man to put his emotions under control.
In the main time, Fang and Nepi while escaping from the village and hiding from the young men of Kouck village who had been mobilized to search for them and bring them to the palace, find themselves sleeping on the market table of a woman in Fundong market who discovers them there, and raises alarm, for her business site has been defied. The village juju is brought and as Fang and Nepi are being escorted to the Fundong palace, they are met on the way by the group of young men from Kouck to whom they were handed. On their way to kouck village, Nkwain, a nephew of Pa Pertsung the fiancé to Nepi rapes Nepi but is himself killed by a snake during his ignoble act. His friends then carry home his corpse and the message while Fang and Nepi escape to Bamenda where they pick up the taxi driver/security guard and mbuh selling jobs respectively. News of the imprisonment of Ma Nepi renders Nepi sick and as she and Fang take a trip back to the village, Nepi dies on the way and at the same moment a black snake is seen around like the one that stung Nkwain the rapist to death.
Nepi’s corpse is taken to her father’ home, who refuses Fang from burying her until he pays the bride price which has to be reimbursed to Pa Pertsung’s family who himself had died earlier. The corpse is dressed for the wedding and after the payment of the bride price by Fang; he is wedded to the corpse, by the raising of Nepi’s hand by her father Pa Pendong and handing it into Fang’s hand and at this very moment Nepi the corpse smiles, thus justifying the title of the film: The Wedding Corpse Smiles. Thereafter, Fang is allowed to carry his wife’s corpse away and bury her where he wants, a burial that is followed by last funeral rites embellished in mourning, traditional dances and gun firing, typical of the grass field of Cameroon.
The actors play their roles well which has led to the plain transmission of the message of the film vividly. They fit squarely for the roles they have been assigned and this has helped in the development of the plot of the story which is somewhat linear and thus makes for easy comprehension.
Language, Communication & themes
A variety of languages and/or dialects have been used in this film which has aided in the conveyance of the issues raised to the viewers. The main mode of communication has been the English language, but the viewers have also been treated to bits of Kom, Bafut, fufulde and pidgin. There is the use of figures of speech such as pathos, proverbs, suspense, coincidence, maiming, and flashback among others, which have had their literary and aesthetic effects in the film to its success in bringing out such themes as, love, hypocrisy, African solidarity, and communality, conflict resolution, marriage, etc.
The western culture has been used not only through the use of the English language but also through the dress style, highly noticed in the scenes in the metropolitan Bamenda, while the rest of the customs of the actors demonstrate the cultural apparel of the grass field and other African wears which have been showcased for variety, colour and aesthetics in this film and not limited only to the North-West Region of Cameroon.
It is important at this juncture for one to find out what the lessons are that the viewers get from watching The Wedding Corpse Smiles. How is tradition conflicting with modernization? Are basic universal human rights being respected in this third millennium? Is the African society adamant to positive change? What is the fate of the African girl child in society? These and more are the burning issues you should find answers for, by watching the film keenly.
When one sees the confused usage of the words ‘adultery’ for ‘fornication’ and vice versa, one is tempted to think that some actors (though not the main), nay the script writer still can’t differentiate these two words and might mislead the viewers. Also when one watches the scene in Fundong when Fang and Nepi are being shamefully escorted to the palace by the juju for having defied a market woman’s market place, and are suddenly met by Nkwain’s group from Kouk village, then an interrogation ensues between the two camps, for the Fundong elders want to know who the Nkwain group are and where they are coming from; the viewers , I mean the African viewers especially, are taken aback to see the juju standing there watching and listening to the verbal exchanges for all that while until it ends and the lovers are handed over to Nkwain and his men. This takes away the reality of the aura created by the presence of a juju anywhere.
However, the immediate foregoing lapses notwithstanding, the film The Wedding Corpse Smiles, is a successful piece of art in film form that merits it place on the pedestal of third millennium African and world cinemas given the themes treated, the good quality of the images and the clean sound emissions. We therefore recommend it to all and sundry especially defenders of human rights, defenders of women’s rights and protection, advocates of children’s rights and to all apostles of a morally sane society. This film is a must watch.
May God bless us.
I salute you all.