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CHRONICLE OF A SUMMER

France, 1961 (MIFF 1965)

Director: Jean Rouch, Edgar Morin

"Are you hiippy?" This is the question round which the whole film is constructed. Jean Rouch continues his longstanding fascination with the documentary study of human material, and here he tackles civil­ised, city-dwelling man.

Rouch and his collaborator, Edgar Monn, en­couraged a group of people to talk about the important issues of their lives before the camera — happiness, love, work, politics, success — and the group is finally invited to criticise the film. It comes close to a freak show as the subjects are often exhibitionists or crippled with embarrassment, and the truth only seens to emerge when they are alone or close to hysteria. But there are moments when it probes into the real fear centres; fear of poverty and of being alone, fear of other races, of sexual failure, and most of all fear self-fraudulence. At its best the camera ceases to be a voyeur to become as steady and detached as a psychiatrist. One of its discoveries is that people are often most themselves when they seem to be acting.

Does it reveal the truth? Perhaps, but what finally matters about the film, and what holds ones attention not only when Marceline or Marilou is on the screen, but also in the more controversial scenes of argument and self-analysis, is not the unvarnished truth, but the extraordinary artistry with which it is presented.

Cultural and Documentary Award, Mannheim Festival.

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