Echoes From a Somber Empire (1990)

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Echoes From a Sombre Empire (German: Echos aus einem dusteren Reich) is a documentary film by Werner Herzog about Jean-Bedel Bokassa.

Unlike most of Herzog's documentaries, the main body of the film does not provide any narration or commentary by Herzog himself. Instead, the film follows journalist Michael Goldsmith as he revisits the Central African Republic, where he was imprisoned and tortured by Bokassa's regime. Goldsmith interviews two of Bokassa's wives, several of Bokassa's children (including the "true" daughter Martine), two of Bokassa's lawyers, and Central African Republic President David Dacko. Bokassa himself appears only in stock footage.

Goldsmith was working as a French journalist when he was imprisoned after reporting on Bokassa's elaborate coronation. In the film, he says that he had written his report and used a telex machine to send it to his employer. There was a power failure during the transmission, causing the text to become jumbled. The message was intercepted by the government of the CAE, who decided that it was a coded message, and that Goldsmith was a South African spy. Goldsmith was taken to a prison, where he says that he was beaten personally by Bokassa, almost to death.

(Summary from Wikipedia)

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