**Timbuktu** opens and closes with symbolism, a group of thugs race across the desert with automatic rifles - shooting at a racing deer, most likely a doe. Moments later, the thugs use sacred relics as target practice. The tone of the film shifts to a bucolic setting of farmers and cattle ranchers.
With low key acting, we watch a husband and wife quietly discuss the affairs of the day. While under the tent, these individuals entertain themselves with stories and the playing musical instruments. They talk about their dreams, expectations and a better future.
Yet in town, we witness a primitive Orwellian world. The hooded thought police troll the streets in search of neighbors violating Sharia Law. Rumors, gossip & hearsay are treated as fact in the kangaroo court of the land. This surreal environment creates a distressing situation that eventually leads to multiple tragedies between honorable people and profane sycophants.
The word **Timbuktu** evokes exotic romance. Director Abderrahmane Sissako provides these expectations with glorious cinematography, but he also creates a human story about a culture that is so foreign to the American way of life.