172 Great Directors: Jean Rouch

“Personally, I am violently opposed to film crews. My reasons are several. The sound engineer must fully understand the language of the people he is recording. It is thus indispensable that he belong to the ethnic group being filmed and that he also be trained in the minutiae of his job. Besides, with the present techniques used in direct cinema, the film maker must be the cameraman. And the ethnologist alone, in my mind, is the one who knows when, where, and how to film, i.e. to do the production. Finally, and this is doubtless the decisive argument, the ethnologist should spend quite a long time in the field before undertaking the least bit of film making. This period of reflection, of learning, of mutual understanding might be extremely long, but such a stay is incompatible with the schedules and salaries of a team of technicians.”

What Got This Director Here?
: Three of his works specifically.

My Favorite Past Experience Was…: Les Maitres Fous.

What Did I Watch: Chronicle of a Summer.

Where Does He Fit: Chronicle of a Summer begins with some namedropping of famous movies from the time, before immediately lying and declaring itself as the truth, made without actors, then interrogating a woman as to whether she is going to feel nervous on camera. Two minutes in and the entire premise of a documentary is already broken, complete with Rouch and his co-director on screen doing it for us in very explicit terms. We still need to know if the general public is happy, though, so we go around asking about it. Existentialism reigns everywhere, as it turns out, but you can never really know what happiness is.


Most Valuable Asset: Truth, lies, and location all interact in exciting ways.
Most Excited For: Moi Un Noir.
Did They Deserve a Spot?: Yes.

Coming Up Next: The original trickster, Georges Melies.


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