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Chronicle of a Summer - Discussing the terms of the experiment

by Michelle Langford

Although having close links to ethnographic filmmaking traditions, Jean Rouch was critical and innovative in his approach to documentary filmmaking. He was explicitly interested in the impact of the process of filming on the subjects he filmed. What is provoked by the presence of the filmmaker and the camera and its effects on the subject being film, and also on the filmmaker? That is, the filmmaker is also transformed, affected by the events filmed. The filmmaker is no longer outside the events depicted.

In this clip from the opening of the film, Rouch and his collaborator, Edgar Morin talk about the film they are making with one of the women, a psychologist, who is going to be involved in the film. They discuss the approach of the film and he begins the film with the question of how to begin. The discussion of the approach, his methodology is included in the film itself. The film makes its own processes part of the thing examined. This is a crucial part of the ethical contract between the filmmaker and subject. For Rouch, this ethical contract involves making his own presence explicit.

Chronicle of a Summer 1 - set-up

Chronicle of a Summer 1 - set-up

from Chronicle of a Summer/Chronique d'un été (1960)
Creator: Jean Rouch
Posted by Michelle Langford