Hop, 2002

The divisive issues of immigration and social integration are also in Dominique Standaert’s visually resplendent, whimsical, and affectionate film, Hop. In the opening scene, Justin (Keita Kalumba), a young immigrant from Burundi, tells a fantastic tale of the pivotal role of the African pygmies in the defeat of the Carthaginian general, Hannibal, during the Punic Wars between Carthage and Rome. Hannibal, according to the resourceful young man, enlisted the aid of the pygmies after learning of their magical ability, called Hop, to exert control over the mighty elephant. Hannibal’s military strategy is widely successful until the pygmies discover the destructive, environmental toll of the devastating war and abandon Hannibal’s campaign against Rome, precipitating his defeat. The folktale would prove to be a source of inspiration for Justin as he hatches a plan to reunite with his deported father (Ansou Diedhiou), enlisting the aid of a crotchety, but goodhearted former radical named Frans (Jan Decleir) and his devoted housekeeper, Gerda (Antje De Boeck). Although the film strains credibility in a few places, Hop is an admirable and technically adept effort for Standaert, whose genuine compassionate for the plight of his characters and gentle humor pervade the film’s well-intentioned soul.

© Acquarello 2002. All rights reserved.