1001 Flicks

Regularly updated blog charting the most important films of the last 104 years.

Friday, February 19, 2010

379. Chronique d'un Été (Chronicle of a Summer) (1961)

Directed By Jean Rouch


A documentary follows common people around during a summer asking them if they are happy and how they live.


The above synopsis gives us a simple premiss for what ends up being a quite complex film, complex not in its basic idea but in the brilliant execution of the whole thing and the methodology underpinning it.

Here, for the first time, we really see documentary cinema being painfully aware of itself. Rouch knows that the camera changes what is being filmed, and so instead of trying to efface it off the screen he admits its presence and his own as director and so do his subjects.

This ends up making the film not only a touching documentary following people's struggles in daily life and their own inner turmoil, but also a self-reflective film. By the end of it the film is shown to the documentary subjects and they try to judge where the "truth" in the film is. This ends up giving all kinds of reactions to the same scenes, showing us and showing itself aware of the subjectivity of truth on camera. Even if the film might get slightly dull at times it is full of very humane moments which are deeply touching as well as being honest about itself and the problems which are always present in documentary film making.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

"It must be said, all that we have done in France in the area of cinéma-vérité comes from Canada. It is Brault who brought a new technique of filming that we had not known and that we copied ever since. In fact, truly, there is a "brauchitis" spreading, it is certain. Even the people who consider that Brault is a nuisance, or were jealous, are forced to recognize it."

Original text

«Il faut le dire, tout ce que nous avons fait en France dans le domaine du cinéma-vérité vient de l'ONF (Canada). C'est Brault qui a apporté une technique nouvelle de tournage que nous ne connaissions pas et que nous copions tous depuis. D'ailleurs, vraiment, on a la "brauchite", ça, c'est sûr; même les gens qui considèrent que Brault est un emmerdeur ou qui étaient jaloux sont forcés de le reconnaître.»" Jean Rouch, June 1963 Cahiers du Cinéma No.144.



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