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Esclaves des mers – Sea Slaves

January 14, 2013

Esclaves des mers is a movie realised by Joel Farges in 2008. It deals with a topical issue of child labor.


The scene takes place in the south of the Philippines. Mario and Alanso, two brothers of the Badjao ethnic group see the captain of a destitute boat which belongs to the “Fishing Filipino Company”, arrived in their small island. We can notice that they live in poor conditions and the captain takes advantage of that to attract the children. He gives bottles of alcohol to the men of the tribe and other objects with no value to the women and the children. In return, the families have to give their children in order to work as intensive fishers in the boat for a few months and the captain promises them a big sum of money. Alanso doesn’t want to work on the boat and leaves his family but he will be compelled to work by his big brother.

On the boat, they are almost only children and the captain is actually really cruel. Indeed, he divides the boat into two teams : the Badjao and the boys who come from the other ethnic group. There is a tense atmosphere because the captain doesn’t stop to create rivaliries between the two groups in order to push them to fish more fishes than their opponents.


Moreover, the living conditions are extremely tough. The little fishers have to fish with a stone hung to their foot which is very dangerous; the food is limited and disgusting, the captain is violent, they have no entertainment, etc.

Day by day the children are exhausted by these inhuman conditions. One of the boys who suffers from a disease will die and his body will be hidden by the captain who will announce that he left the boat. Two other boys will be bitten by sharks ; the first one will survive but he will be shocked for life and the other one will die.

All these tragic events will provoke the children’s rebellion.

Esclaves des mers

I had the opportunity to see this movie on Arte chanel a few months ago. I have to admit that I am not used to watching this channel but this movie really caught my attention. Indeed, it is inspired by a true story with true testimonies. I wanted to present you this movie because I find unfair the fact that this kind of practices still exist nowadays. Even if it seems unthinkable, we have to be aware that child labor remains a current issue. Apart from these features, what I like in this film is to see how the children face their problems. Despite their young age they are very mature, they know that they are exploited. However, they remain humans, they are generous and tolerant contrary to the adults. I find very touching to see how each of them try to reassure themselves. In fact, the children come from different parts of the Philippines ; there are the Badjaos who sing traditional songs, the Muslims who pray and the Christians who have three dolls in referance to the three saints. Last but not least, it is very lovely to see how each of them practice their religion in peace.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 15, 2013 7:27 am

    I was completely unaware of this movie until now. Thank you. I wonder is there anyway that I can obtain a copy to watch? I would especially be interested in listening to the traditional Badjao songs and anything that might be in the movie that is in their language. Thank you.

  2. March 15, 2013 7:32 am

    Reblogged this on My Blog and commented:
    There are an amazing amount of movies coming out that focus on the Sama people in one way or another. The movie Esclaves des mers – Sea Slaves as described by Terminale L in this blog post is new to me. I hope to get the chance to see it and listen for the Sinama parts of the movie.

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