This article analyzes Quand les étoiles rencontrent la mer (1996), a Malagasy film by Raymond Rajaonarivelo. Using anthropological studies of spiritual beliefs in Madagascar, film theory, and information from field work and interviews, I examine how Rajaonarivelo interweaves ideas of magic and image in this film to create an esthetically sophisticated and socially engaged text that challenges the Malagasy practice of killing children born on “evil” days. I argue that the protagonist, Kapila, undergoes an initiation that teaches him how to see the magical forces affecting him and that he ultimately learns to escape the gods’ control over his life. This article further asserts that the battle between free will and destiny in Quand les étoiles rencontrent la mer becomes a battle against filmic representation. As Rajaonarivelo inserts himself into his own deixis, Kapila’s battle becomes a fight over his cinematic image, against the writer-director who, like the gods, manipulates the direction and meaning of his life.
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