Chocolat (1988 film)

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For the 2000 American-British romance film, see Chocolat (2000 film).
English-language film poster
Directed by Claire Denis
Produced by Alain Belmondo, Gérard Crosnier,
Written by Claire Denis, Jean-Pol Fargeau
Starring François Cluzet, Isaach De Bankolé, Giulia Boschi
Music by Abdullah Ibrahim
Cinematography Robert Alazraki
Edited by Monica Coleman, Claudine Merlin, Sylvie Quester
Distributed by Orion Classics
Release dates
Running time
105 minutes
Country France
Language French

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.[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 makes public the evident sexual attraction between Aimée and Protée, prompting the mother to act on her desire. This results in a fight between Luc and Protée, who consequently loses his in-house job and is moved 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


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

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