The Adventure of the RealJean Rouch and the Craft of Ethnographic Cinema

The Adventure of the RealJean Rouch and the Craft of Ethnographic Cinema

Paul Henley

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226327143

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Though relatively unsung in the English-speaking world, Jean Rouch (1917–2004) was a towering figure of ethnographic cinema, who, over the course of a fifty-year career, completed over one hundred films, both documentary and fiction, and exerted an influence far beyond academia. This book provides a comprehensive analysis of Rouch's practical filmmaking methods, which he developed while conducting anthropological research in West Africa in the 1940s–1950s. His innovative use of unscripted improvization by his subjects had a profound impact on the French New Wave, the author reveals, while his documentary work launched the genre of cinema-vérité. In addition to tracking Rouch's pioneering career, the author examines the technical strategies, aesthetic considerations, and ethical positions that contribute to Rouch's cinematographic legacy.