Gras does at least manage to find images to articulate the dimension of Kabwita’s efforts, most strikingly when a passing bus reveals the snail’s pace at which he’s moving. Yet the quest narrative and the predictable setbacks ultimately tighten their grip on the film, to such an extent that Kabwita’s individual fate soon feels like just another vehicle for putting across the same eminently valid point made countless times before: the path to prosperity is a rocky one, not least in Africa.
Even as Kasongois is confronted by hard-nosed people throughout the film, and his determination seems to waver toward the end of his trip, audiences will come away believing that he and his lot are not bereft of hope. Ultimately, the film proves its worth by betraying a minimum of condescension or intrusiveness.
A film of considerable beauty, Makala locates an epic dimension in the humblest of existences. But Gras is not seeking to ennoble poverty: he recognizes that for Kabwita, and for many others like him, basic survival requires truly monumental efforts, and it is only right to film them as such.