With a rare combination of unflinching realism in its portrayal of poverty and injustice faced by natives of Madagascar and magical fantasy, this drama promises to be a film not soon forgotten. It begins in a tiny, superstitious village as a father places a newborn in a cattle corral so that the babe will be trampled to death. They do this because the child was born during an eclipse, a sure sign that he will grow up with malevolent supernatural powers. Though the baby's leg is crushed, he escapes death when a courageous girl rescues him and takes him to a new village where she begins working as a burial shroud weaver while he grows up. Because he is crippled, everyone calls him Kapila (cripple). He only has vague memories of the cattle trauma and helps his mother by selling empty bottles. His only friend is a seven-year-old homeless boy who lives by stealing food from the market place until he is caught and beaten to death. Kapila witnesses the killing. He becomes blindly angry and in his rage causes a lightning bolt to crash downward and avenge the killing. Much later he returns to his native village for vengeance against his father, who has since gone mad and become the village pariah. In the story's violent end, Kapila ends up taking on the entire village.
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