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Snakes in Movies
Sahara (2017)
Spoiler Alert !

Some of these pictures and descriptions may give away plot details that you might not want to know before watching the film.
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This is an unusual animated movie because most of the characters are snakes. It's probably a difficult watch for anyone scared of snakes. Americans would not make this movie, given that snakes and scorpions are feared by so many people, so I was not surprised to learn that it was a French production, with English dialogue. That makes sense also because the French colonized much of the Sahara with the French Foreign Legion and all that. There's also a French lover character snake in the movie. It's not an offensive cultural stereotype if they do it to themselves, right?

As animals are in all movies where they are anthropomorphized, these snakes have a lot of human characteristics and behaviors: they use their tales like hands, even high-fiving with them; they have eyelids; the females have eyelashes and lips; they kiss; and of course, they can talk. In fact, snakes have more dialog than I've ever heard in a movie with snakes. That's impressive, until you realize that there almost no films with talking snakes and they're all animated in some way because, spoiler alert, snakes can't talk.

This is essentially a teen coming-of-age movie where the teens are snakes. There's Eva, the teen daughter of the richest snake in the oasis where the Green Snakes rule. Her green skin has a girly pattern of flowers. And there's Ajar, the teen cobra who falls for Eva. He's a "Dusty" from the wrong side of the rocks where there is no water, and his skin is a dingy blue color because he needs to shed his skin and just because he's a teenager. (He finally sheds into a beautiful blue at the end.) There's also Gary, Eva's teenaged stoner brother, who gets high off of pollen and wears a human hair wig. Yes, a snake wearing a wig....

Eva is captured by an evil snake charmer named Omar, who has a full-body snake tattoo and keeps snakes captive in baskets. Omar controls his snakes with music from a magic flute. His flute playing can force them to dance and stop them from escaping. In his home town shop called "Snake Paradise" he also skins snakes to make belts and designer shoes, and apparently sells "snake snacks" made of chopped up snakes. He also puts on "Tuareg snake shows" with dancing snakes for the tourists. Eva is one of his dancing snakes, and we see a few different scenes of the snakes dancing to music, including a dance contest with some snake break dancing to hip-hop music. (Thanks to Disney there seems to be a rule that all animated films for young people must be musicals.) This is all a great exaggeration of the traditional snake charmers you see in India and Africa, who use cobras which rise up a sway a bit, but I hate to spoil it for you - snakes don't dance. Usually when we see two snakes "dancing" they are actually two males fighting for dominance with one male trying to wrestle the other guy to the ground.

Most of the movie is an extended road trip after Ajar and his scorpion friend Pitt and Gary set out across the desert to rescue Eva, following Omar's camel caravan. Along the way they encounter carnivorous glow worms that try to eat them, a sand skink, desert tourists who are terrified of them, and a scorpion family on vacation. They ride an underground river from an oasis to Omar's town in a bucket, and Ajar flies on the winds of a sand storm. I don't need to tell you how it ends. You've seen it all before, but not with animated snakes!