Saturday, August 9, 2014

How To Destroy Your Marriage

As illustrated by the movie Timbuktu, which my husband and I watched yesterday. This is a review of sorts, though it contains spoilers. Timbuktu is a 1959 advernture/love drama which takes place in French Sudan in 1940. A French colonel recently transferred to Africa has to deal with jihadist insurgents trying to use a local religious leader as their tool. The colonel has a young pretty wife who falls for a double-crossing American adventurer Conway.

Conway is planning to sell stolen French machine guns and ammo to the insurgents but gets a change of heart for an unclear reason and starts helping the French. The colonel, knowing full well that his wife is basically in love with the American, uses her feelings to deceive the emir, who is the real leader of the jihadists, to achieve his own objectives.

The plot is entertaining, but what really got my attention was the conflict between the three main characters (the colonel, his wife and Conway), and the way it was solved. The colonel and his wife haven't been married for a long time, but their marriage is already on the rocks. In my opinion, it was more the wife's fault as she obviously belonged to the type of  woman who is in need of constant entertaining, and totally lacked sympathetic understanding.

She was the same sort of woman who nowadays would divorce her husband because of feeling bored. In this she is contrasted with the other female character, the wife of a young lieutenant, who is her exact opposite. On the other hand, though one can admire the colonel's sense of duty, one wonders if it was really necessary for him to prostitute his wife. He also nearly totally ignored her which is rather unwise. Women appreciate small romantic gestures as they need to know that they are loved.

The movie also highlights the communication problems between men and women. When Conway first starts his advances, the lady is more amused than in love and one of the reasons she tells it to her husband is probably to make him jealous. She miscalculates badly as the colonel, being a very proud man essentially feels that their marriage is over. From that moment on he cynically keeps pushing his wife into the arms of the rival.

Conway is a very interesting character, too. He reminded me of Han Solo from Star Wars. In the beginning, he states that the only thing which motivates him is self-interest (and his love for money), yet he changes his mind later on, though it means risking his own life for the cause of the French, which is not his own. While love is the obvious reason, it goes deeper than that. He is obviously influenced by the scenes of cold- blooded murder, when the emir kills the religious leaders who refuse to side with him.

This is the changing point in his career, and he is further motivated by the behaviour of the French lieutenant who withstands torture and dies, though he could save his life by bertraying Conway. It's noteworthy, that the emir says that the young Frenchman has been the only man so far who didn't talk, which shows that Europeans were not always famous for their decadence, but for other character qualities which made even their enemies admire them.

As the story progresses and Conway's life is in danger, the colonel's wife expresses disgust with her husband, who is, in her opinion, a coward, but then her feelings change again as she finds out that he was risking his life, too, and is ready to do it again to save Conway and the holy man whom the latter concealed from the murderous emir. At this point, it's rather unclear which man she will choose, but luckily for Conway, the colonel dies in the path of duty, so that the two lovers can unite.

I don't know if it was meant as a happy end, but I keep wondering if a woman can really be happy with such a man as Conway. He obviously lacked the moral principles, though he was occasionally motivated into good behaviour by the example of others. I'd rather stay with a man ruled by the sense of duty than by self-interest.

If you are interested, you can watch the movie over here:


UPDATE (Off Topic)

Some time ago I wrote about my experiencing problems while trying to comment on my own blog. I seem not to be the only one, as I received an email the author of which complained about the same thing. I tried to reset the blog settings but it doesn't work and I'm unwilling to allow anonymous comments. If you have trouble commenting (Blogger keeps deleting your comments), first login into your account, then try posting a comment. This should work.


  1. Dear Sanne

    I was wondering if you had seen either The Silver Fleet (1943) or The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit (1956)?

    If not I hope you do as I would love to see your take on these two movies.

    Mark Moncrieff
    Upon Hope Blog - A Traditional Conservative Future
    I'm 2/3rd's of the way through the book, I've been distracted.

  2. Hello Mark,

    no, I haven't. Thanks for the recommendation! If you are interested, you can check my other reviews on this blog.

    Thanks also or the update on the book, I hope you'll finish it soon!