Directors Rémi Bezançon and Jean-Christophe Lie, co-writers and producer at Prima Linea Productions chose to present “Zarafa” to young spectators in the form of a tale. Under the palaver tree, in front of an audience of fascinated children, the village’s elder unfolds a tale of adventures, full of surprises and twists, with its share of emotions, fear, joy and excitement. As with all oral tradition stories, the story of young Maki and his giraffe, companion in misfortune mixes truthfulness and wonder, burlesque and realism. In the face of adversity, the little African boy demonstrates the uncompromising courage of Oliver Twist and the stubborn optimism of Rémi’s Sans famille. And the orphaned giraffe will be much more than a mute and endearing mascot. Like any good tale, it brings a contrasting conclusion. The journey from Africa to France and back is a journey of initiation where you have to know how to lose loved ones, illusions – and win – a love, a future.
Between the authentic story through which I have traveled without weariness, and the childish (but not infantile) fable that I discovered here, there are certainly many differences. Everything or almost everything is about the real Zarafa, but in a random and fanciful order. The historian-lecturer forgets his documents for a while to let himself be bewitched by the charms of the tale. A few years before the debut of “our” giraffe, Samuel T. Coleridge granted himself a similar privilege by introducing: “supernatural, or at least romantic characters, giving rise in each of us a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to grant for a moment, to these fruits of the imagination, that consensual suspension of disbelief which constitutes poetic faith.”