In Cinema, in Trance /

Im Kino, in Trance ..

.. this recent article in taz (german link) reminded me of the current retrospectives of filmmaker Jean Rouch, because of his recent death or as BBC put it: Father of ‘cinema verite’ dies. Information on his work can be found at the Documentary educational resources site, which hosts in magazine like style a general archive and a posting list on documentary films. It provides profound sources like an interview with Rouch and other well interlinked material on this specific filmmaker of cinema verite ….

… Rouch’s innovative approaches effected more than anthropological film. In the summer of 1960, Rouch and sociologist Edgar Morin shot Chronique d’Un Ete’ (Chronicle of a Summer), a film dealing with Parisians’ thoughts and feelings at the end of the Algerian war. In Chronique, now considered a pioneering “cinema-verite” film, the formerly invisible barrier between the “objective” filmmaker and his subject dissolved. The viewers see the filmmaker approach his subjects on the boulevards of Paris, inquiring, “Are you happy?” Technically, Chronique also furthered the development of a more efficient, portable, synchronous sound system that permitted the filming of longer, unbroken sequences.

Although Rouch is best known for Chronique, and for the inspiration that it offered to New Wave filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Goddard and Francois Truffaut, his most striking contributions to film remain more than seventy ethnographic films made in West Africa. From the 1940s until the present, Rouch has produced films in Ghana, Niger, Mali, and Upper Volta, ranging from straightforward portrayals of extraordinary ritual events, such as Les Maitres Fous and Lion Hunters to “collective improvisations” such as Jaguar.
more here
(a specific description of first cinema verite films by Rouch and Morin also at sensesofcinema.com)

… and cine trance

… Stoller’s biography of Rouch is simultaneously an exposition of Rouch’s film and anthropological work, cinema and theories, how they developed, what they mean for anthropology, and what they meant for Rouch’s African subjects and Stoller himself. A crucial element of Stoller’s empathetic narrative is his questioning of Western cartesian rationality, which cannot explain the “scientifically unthinkable”, the para-normal and the unexplainable. Where industrial societies have separated the Subject from the Object, oral cultures retain this ontological integration. Rouch’s cinema is geared to understanding this integration in a way that conventional written anthropology could never hope to do. This resulted in Rouch’s method of “shared anthropology”, “ethnographic surreality”, and his notion of “cine trance” (being ‘possessed’ while filming) which meshed the camera with the organic patterns of rituals and other kinds of ceremonies.
read more here

… further highly interesting links especially on the known, but rarely shown film Les Maitres Fous can be found at hausite.net and in this article at breakingopenthehead.com.

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