Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai
aka Rain the Color of Blue With a Little Red in It
Written by Christopher Kirkley and Jerome Fino
Directed by Christopher Kirkley
An African version of Purple Rain? Of course I’ve got to watch it! It helps that Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai (Rain the Color of Blue With a Little Red in It) turns out to be an entertaining film that is pretty unique in character, though be warned it isn’t for everyone. Akounak was the dream of Christopher Kirkley, an ex-pat from Seattle who ended up in West Africa and had a dream of exporting the sounds of the region’s unique music stylings. He has done so with a record label and has become a manager of talent, so the next logical step would be to enter the movie world, and what better choice than an unofficial remake of Purple Rain?
First, some problems. Christopher Kirkley doesn’t speak Tuareg, the local language the film was shot in. But he does speak French, and so does star Mdou Moctar, so Kirkley would explain to Moctar what each scene was supposed to be about and how it was set up, then Moctar would explain that to the other actors, and they would work through the scene. Later, Kirkley had to have the whole film translated, which ended up with a few scenes not fitting in correctly. Some of this is covered up with creative editing, some of it is easy to dismiss as a first-time filmmaker just learning the ropes, and some of it makes you go “Guh?”. As an added bonus, Tuareg doesn’t have a word for “purple”, hence the long-winded title of Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai – Rain the Color of Blue With a Little Red in It, which is just to perfect to not keep as a title, Kirkley obviously agreeing with that sentiment.
Overall, the effect is quite charming, and anyone familiar with African cinema will be right at home, there are multiple points where the setup and composition is nearly identical to the Nigerian and Ghanaian films I’ve watched, with a lot of talking around that seems loosely connected to the story at best. The Purple Rain plot being grafted on keeps the movie going forward and not mired in those talking scenes, which means we get plenty of rocking musical performances and plot drama.