By Jean Rouch
Probably the most influential figures in documentary and ethnographic filmmaking, Jean Rouch has made a couple of hundred motion pictures in West Africa and France. In such acclaimed works as Jaguar, The Lion Hunters, and Cocorico, Monsieur Poulet, Rouch has explored racism, colonialism, African modernity, spiritual ritual, and song. He pioneered quite a few movie suggestions and applied sciences, and within the method encouraged generations of filmmakers, from New Wave administrators, who emulated his cinema verite sort, to today’s documentarians. Cine-Ethnography is a long-overdue English-language source that collects Rouch’s key writings, interviews, and different fabrics that distill his pondering on filmmaking, ethnography, and his personal profession. Editor Steven Feld opens with a concise evaluate of Rouch’s occupation, highlighting the subjects came across all through his paintings. within the 4 essays that keep on with, Rouch discusses the ethnographic movie as a style, the background of African cinema, his reports of filmmaking one of the Songhay,and the intertwined histories of French colonialism, anthropology, and cinema. And in 4 interviews, Rouch thoughtfully displays on every one of his motion pictures, in addition to his creative, highbrow, and political matters. Cine-Ethnography additionally includes an annotated transcript of Chronicle of a Summer–one of Rouch’s most vital works–along with statement by way of the filmmakers, and concludes with an entire, annotated filmography and a bibliography. the main thorough source on Rouch on hand in any language, Cine-Ethnography makes transparent this awesome and nonetheless very important filmmaker’s significant function within the historical past of documentary cinema.
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Additional resources for Ciné-Ethnography
Fusion of the Worlds. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ———. 1992. The Cinematic Griot: The Ethnography of Jean Rouch. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ———. 1995. Embodying Colonial Memories: Spirit Possession, Power, and the Hauka in West Africa. New York: Routledge. Stoller, Paul, and Cheryl Olkes. 1987. In Sorcery’s Shadow: A Memoir of Apprenticeship among the Songhay of Niger. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Taussig, Michael. 1993. Mimesis and Alterity: A Particular History of the Senses.
In 1951 the first self-governing tape recorders appeared. Even though they had crank motors and weighed seventy pounds, they replaced a sound truck of several tons. Yet no one except a few anthropologists initiated themselves into the mania of these bizarre tools, which no professional in the film industry would even look at. And so a few ethnographers simultaneously made themselves director, cameraman, sound recordist, editor, and also producer. Curiously, Luc de Heusch, Ivan Polunin, Henri Brandt, John Marshall, and I realized that as a by-product, we were inventing a new language.
This technique is particularly useful in ethnographic filming, for it allows the cameraman to adapt to the action as a function of the spatial layout. He is thus able to penetrate into the reality, rather than leaving it to unroll itself in front of the observer. Yet some directors have continued the general use of the tripod, always for the sake of technical rigor. This is to my mind the major fault in the films of Roger Sandall and the last New Guinea film by Ian Dunlop. ) The physical immobility of a tripod-fixed camera is thought to be compensated for by the wide use of variable-focal-length lenses (zoom lenses), which create an optical imitation of a dolly shot.
Ciné-Ethnography by Jean Rouch