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Chocolat is a 1988 film directed by Claire Denis, about a French family that lives in colonial Cameroon. Marc and Aimée Dalens (François Cluzet and Giulia Boschi) are the parents of France (Cécile Ducasse), a young girl who befriends Protée (Isaach de Bankolé), a Cameroon native who is the family's household servant. The film was entered into the 1988 Cannes Film Festival.[2]

English-language film poster
Directed byClaire Denis
Produced byAlain Belmondo
Gérard Crosnier
Written byClaire Denis
Jean-Pol Fargeau
StarringIsaach de Bankolé
François Cluzet
Giulia Boschi
Music byAbdullah Ibrahim
CinematographyRobert Alazraki
Edited byMonica Coleman
Claudine Merlin
Sylvie Quester
Distributed byOrion Classics
Release date
  • 1988 (1988)
Running time
105 minutes
Box office$8.3 million[1]


The film begins with an adult woman named France, walking down a road toward Douala, Cameroon. While walking, she is picked up by William J. Park (Emmet Judson Williamson), an African American who has moved to Africa and is driving to Limbe with his son. As they ride, France's mind drifts and we see her as a young girl in Northern French Cameroon where her father was a colonial administrator.

The story is conducted through the eyes of young France, showing her friendship with the "houseboy", Protée, as well the sexual tension between him and her young and beautiful mother, Aimée. The conflict of the film comes from the discomfort created as France and her mother attempt to move past the established boundaries between themselves and the native Africans. This is brought to a head through Luc Segalen (Jean-Claude Adelin), a Western drifter who stays with the Dalens family after a small aircraft crashes nearby. He acknowledges Aimée's attraction to Protée in the presence of other black servants. This later results in a fight between Luc and Protée, which Protée wins. During the fight, Aimée sits nearby, unseen by the two. She attempts to seduce Protée after Luc has left but he rejects her advance. Aimée consequently asks her husband to remove him from the house. Protée is moved from his in-house job to work outdoors in the garage as a mechanic.

The title Chocolat comes from the 1950s slang meaning "to be cheated", and thus refers to the status in French Cameroon of being black and being cheated. Towards the end of the film, France's father reveals a central theme of the film as he explains to her what the horizon line is. He tells her that it is a line that is there but not there, a symbol for the racial boundary that exists in the country. This line is not a physical one but is still one that people widely recognize.



The soundtrack, performed and recorded by Abdullah Ibrahim, was released in 1988 as Mindif


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  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Chocolat". Retrieved 2009-07-25.

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