On the Road to Timbuktu: Explorers in Africa

On the Road to Timbuktu: Explorers in Africa[1] (French: Vers Tombouctou : L'Afrique des explorateurs; German: Auf nach Timbuktu!) is a 1999 documentary film adapted from French historian Anne Hugon's nonfiction book of the same name.[2] Directed by Jean-Claude Lubtchansky, and co-produced by Trans Europe Film, La Sept-Arte and Éditions Gallimard,[3] with voice-over narration by French actors François Marthouret, Yves Lambrecht [fr], and German actor Richard Sammel.[4] The film follows in the footsteps of Mungo Park, René Caillié and Heinrich Barth, the three explorers who have become legends both in Europe and in Africa.

On the Road to Timbuktu: Explorers in Africa
FrenchVers Tombouctou : L'Afrique des explorateurs
Based onVers Tombouctou : L'Afrique des explorateurs II
by Anne Hugon
Written byAnne Hugon
Screenplay byJean-Claude and Carole Lubtchansky
Story byAnne Hugon
Directed byJean-Claude Lubtchansky
Voices of
Country of originFrance
Original languageFrench
ProducerJean-Pierre Gibrat
Running time52 minutes
Production companies
Original release
Release6 November 1999 (1999-11-06)

The documentary was broadcast on Arte on 6 November 1999,[5] as part of the channel's television programme The Human Adventure.[6] It has been dubbed into German, however, it is unclear whether the film is available in English.

Synopsis edit

In early 19th century, inner Africa was still a terra incognita for Europeans. But the scientific and geographical curiosity of the last century's Enlightenment movement, brought forth a new type of adventurers: the explorers, whose purpose was to inform their contemporaries about the kaleidoscope of cultures and civilisations on this planet. Among them, Mungo Park, René Caillié and Heinrich Barth, have become legends in Europe for their expeditions and discoveries in inner and western Africa.[7]

Introduction edit

After Once Upon a Time in Mesopotamia, Quand le Japon s'ouvrit au monde [fr] and Galilée, le messager des étoiles [fr], this is Lubtchansky's fourth documentary film adapted from literary works in "Découvertes Gallimard" collection. A permanent connection between the past and the present, history, memory and reality. Combining illustrations (maps, engravings, paintings), archive photos and scenes filmed on location, "it's a work on the fringe of the real and the imaginary", explains the filmmaker, a method inspired by the pictorial richness of "Découvertes" books.[8]

The book edit

Vers Tombouctou :
L'Afrique des explorateurs II
First edition. The cover features a portrait of Lat Jor, reverse painting on glass, Senegal. In the background, view of Timbuktu, in Notes de Voyages à Tombouctou by René Caillié. Bibl. nat., Paris.
AuthorAnne Hugon
SeriesDécouvertes Gallimard●Invention du monde
Release number
2nd in series,
216th in collection
SubjectEuropean exploration of Timbuktu and West Africa
GenreNonfiction monograph
PublisherÉditions Gallimard
Publication date
14 September 1994
Media typePrint (paperback)
Pages176 pp.
ISBN978-2-0705-3226-1 (first edition)
Preceded byL'Homme avant l'Homme : Le scénario des origines 
Followed byPériclès : L'apogée d'Athènes 

Introduction edit

The book Vers Tombouctou : L'Afrique des explorateurs II, on which the film is based, is an illustrated monograph on history of the European exploration of Timbuktu, inner and western Africa, published in pocket format by Éditions Gallimard on 14 September 1994. Written by the French Africanist and historian Anne Hugon, this work is the 216th volume in the encyclopaedic collection "Découvertes Gallimard", and part of the collection's Histoire series (formerly belonging to Invention du monde series).[9] It's also a sequel of The Exploration of Africa: From Cairo to the Cape ("Découvertes" No. 117). Together, they form a "miniseries"—L'Afrique des explorateurs—in the collection.[10]

According to the tradition of "Découvertes", which is based on an abundant pictorial documentation and a way of bringing together visual documents and texts, enhanced by printing on coated paper; in other words, "genuine monographs, published like art books".[11]

While many of the French titles from the collection make it into English, this book has never been translated.

Synopsis edit

The book concentrates on Timbuktu, an ancient city in Mali, in West Africa, a region which the preceding work From Cairo to the Cape has nothing on it.

For Europeans, Timbuktu was a mythical city in the heart of the Sahara. In 1795, Mungo Park acknowledged the Niger River. Thirty years later, René Caillié entered this "forbidden city", while Hugh Clapperton explored Lake Chad, Heinrich Barth crossed the Sahara... Travellers discovered the powerful dynasties of West Africa. Since 1850, the new explorers were mostly colonial officers with mission of conquest. On the eve of the World War I, despite African nationalism, Europeans managed to create genuine empires in Africa.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "On the road to Timbuktu : explorers in Africa". spla.pro. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  2. ^ "Vers Tombouctou : L'Afrique des explorateurs, Documentaire de Jean-Claude Lubtchansky". Arte Magazine (in French). Vol. 46. Strasbourg: Arte. 10 November 2001. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  3. ^ "Vers Tombouctou, l'Afrique des explorateurs". Africultures.com (in French and English). 2002. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  4. ^ "Vers Tombouctou, l'Afrique des explorateurs [Images animées]". catalogue.bnf.fr (in French). 2001. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  5. ^ Jaurès, Cécile (13 November 1999). "Les choix de " La Croix " SAMEDI". la-croix.com (in French). Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  6. ^ "L'Aventure humaine : La Terre des Peaux Rouges — Dix films : Vers Tombouctou, l'Afrique des explorateurs" (PDF). pro.arte.tv (in French). 2002. p. 7. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  7. ^ "Auf nach Timbuktu!". programm.ard.de (in German). 18 April 2010. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  8. ^ Deffontaines, Thérèse-Marie (31 October 1999). "Tombouctou la mystérieuse". lemonde.fr (in French). Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  9. ^ "L'Afrique des explorateurs II : Vers Tombouctou, Collection Découvertes Gallimard (n° 216), Série Histoire". gallimard.fr (in French). Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  10. ^ Renou-Nativel, Corinne (13 August 2020). "Quand le journaliste Stanley retrouve l'explorateur disparu Livingstone". La Croix (in French). Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  11. ^ Garcia, Daniel (1 November 2005). "L'invention des Découvertes". lexpress.fr (in French). Retrieved 23 December 2020. De véritables monographies, éditées comme des livres d'art.

External links edit