Jaguar | Chicago Reader


89 minutes 2012

Much as history is written by survivors, film history is frequently written by distributors. So the towering importance of ethnographic filmmaker Jean Rouch is usually something U.S. viewers can only read about. Rouch was a pioneer in working with sync sound and in mixing fiction and narrative with documentary, usually through the creative intervention of the subjects being filmed--aspects that were to fundamentally influence the French New Wave. Shot in the 50s and completed in 1967, Jaguar is a semifictional story about three young men who leave Niger to find work in Ghana prior to its independence. Rouch invited the major characters to improvise a narrative over the footage, which is an amazing and often funny document in its own right. If you care about cinema and haven't yet encountered Rouch, this shouldn't be missed.

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