What is it about humans that makes us so different from all other species? We take pride in answering intelligence questions, but it is not just that. The vindictive nature that humans are entitled to is undoubtedly one of the primary reasons why we are different from any other living species on the face of the earth. Humans are, by nature, power mongers. The constant power struggles often strip humans of their humanity. However, we are too blindsided to realize that. Since time immemorial, humans have discriminated against caste, race, religion, s*x, and whatnot. Often, to legitimize their selfish motives, humans created mythical characters who were the harbingers of bad luck and blamed them. In Arabian and Islamic myths, Djinn is a popular character who cherishes other people’s misfortune. He is one of the lesser angels who is obviously discriminated against. This brings us to the fourth episode of Netflix’s series in association with UNESCO “African Folktales Reimagined.” The fourth episode is titled “Enmity Djinn” and is a story about the titular character. The film can be perceived in several ways. Mostly, the film has a lot of powerful and symbolic visuals and very minimal dialogue. Honestly, we had to rewatch the film before we could draw any conclusions about it. However, the film is obviously open-ended and can be explained in multiple ways. Here is what we think about the film:
Djinn And His Characteristics
The film opens with beautiful desert landscapes of dusk and moonlit evening, and an elderly woman’s voice is heard in the background. As the visuals of the desert began to paint a specific picture, we saw a figure standing by a lonely tree. The entire scenario becomes lonely. The woman’s voice in the background seemed to be in conversation with someone younger; probably, it was a conversation between a grandma and her grandson. They were talking about Djinn and his characteristics. The grandmother said that Djinn is invisible, but if someone pays close attention, they might feel him around. As the characteristics of the Djinn were explained by the supposed grandmother, we see the Djinn on the skin. It was a dark cloth-laden being with two ornamental beads on the braids over the face. If it stands facing its back, it looks like a tomb. The grandmother continued that Djinn works in the daylight when people are most distracted and disappears at night (very human-like, ain’t it?). Djinn cannot come on his own. He needs to be called upon. Sorcerors used to call him Sihr (a talisman-like dark object used in black magic). This talisman brought the Djinn back every morning unless he completed the task for which he had been summoned. A Djinn’s work is to plant seeds of inhumanity and immorality in human hearts to turn them against one another.
Along with the grandmother’s story in the background, we see visuals of a woman summoning the Djinn. There is a community where the Djinn has been evoked, where women and children mostly wear black clothes. The women looked happy while they were doing their daily chores, but it was clear that all of them had pain. The grandmother, too, narrated that if someone could resist the temptation to call the Djinn, only then could they not fall prey to his powers. Djins are born of utmost enmity, and for humans, the primal enemies are pain, misfortune, and violence. We see a man wearing traditional white attire beating a man wearing black attire, like the women we previously saw. As the narration continues, Djinn brings out the worst in men and hides everything good that is in a man. The narrator mentions that Djinn begins to bring out the worst in men, and it is mostly men who complete his task. We see a horde of camels coming toward the settlement, and soon the settlement turns into piles of dead bodies on the sand. We saw a kid who seemed to be able to see the Dnjinn-held robe, and it began to disappear. The Djinn seemed to walk away from the little girl.
Tale Of Djinn: 75 Years Later
Soon we are taken seventy-five years ahead, where we see an aged lady praying and her son standing afar watching her. There were servants moving furniture. The son asked his mother, the old lady, about her health and went away. Then we see a young boy, the grandson of the old lady, counting money to buy a bicycle. He was being a kid and hiding money from his grandmother. The old lady said that she would pay him extra, but only if he let his cousin play with him. Although the kid was not sure about letting his cousin’s sister ride his new bicycle, he agreed.
Soon we see the grandmother, who was a religious woman, returning to her house. A suspicious man was walking towards her and changed his direction the moment they came face-to-face. The moment the grandmother went inside her house, the man planted a talisman in her pot. The next morning, the Djinn appeared in front of her house. As she walks to her son’s place, the Djinn followed. He sees that her son is leaving in a car; later, we see the son getting into road rage. The grandchild was poisoned by the Djinn too; instead of buying the cycle, he stole it. The Djinn disappears as the evening falls and appears again the next morning.
It is weird that the son and the grandson were both in good health, and we only saw that the bicycle was broken as if it had met with an accident. The Djinn walked into the house. When going inside the house, the old lady realized something: she felt the presence of the Djinn. She walked into the house where her son and her daughter, along with their family, were having a gala time. The old lady could see the Djinn, yet she did not react. However, it felt like either she almost saw the future or knew what would happen in the future, as if she knew how the Djinn worked. Soon, she asked everyone to leave the room and only her grandchildren to stay with her. She asked her children to come back the next day during prayer time. That night, the grandmother narrated the tale of the Djinn to her grandchildren and drew scared letters on all the corners of the house.
Episode 4: Ending
The next morning, as she began praying, it felt as if she had invited the Djinn into her room. Soon, the Djinn and the old lady were standing face to face, and it was as if the Djinn could not move. The lady was controlling him, and soon there appeared a child, a female child, who held the Djinn, and he finally disappeared. The young child that we saw at the beginning of the dessert had a certain mark on her skin. We realized the old lady had such a mark. Was it the old lady’s way of breaking the cycle of Djinn ruining her happiness? The director leaves it up to the audience to answer that.
There are two possibilities here: Primarily, the young child who could see the Djinn waited for seventy-five years to finally be free from the shackles of the Djinn haunting her. She had some divine connection, or it was her innocence—the innocence of a girl child—that could drive away something that could plague society.
Mohamed Echkouna, the director of “Enmity Djinn,” has made a layered film. The film is a brilliant satire. The character Djinn is the mockery of those who initiate rivalry. Looking at the current scenario of the world, the Djinn can be the government; instead of maintaining peace, they declare war. It could also be associated with fake people we meet on the Internet, drugs, and so many other things that, instead of killing us directly, just act as a tool we use to self-harm, either individually or socially.
The child appeared to be a symbol of innocence and purity. The complexities and evilness of something or someone like Djinn can be stopped by nothing other than innocence, for innocence produces love. And love conquers all.