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Jaguar (1967 film)

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Jaguar
Directed byJean Rouch
Produced byPierre Braunberger
StarringDamouré Zika, Lam, Illo
Narrated byJean Rouch, Damouré Zika, Lam
CinematographyJean Rouch
Music byEnos Amelodon, Tallou Mouzourane, Amisata Gaoudelize
Release date
September 3, 1967
Running time
91 min
CountryFrance
LanguageFrench

Jaguar is a 1967 French ethnographic film directed by Jean Rouch. Set in the 1950s, it follows three men from Niger, Damouré, Lam, and Illo, who travel to the Gold Coast (now Ghana) for work. Much of the dialogue and narration in the film is provided by the three men themselves as they comment on their past experiences on their journey.

After being exhibited at the Venice Film Festival in 1967, the movie finally had a general though limited release in 1971. It was well-received by French audiences and critics,[1] and has since received considerable academic attention due to the film's unconventional framing and its implicit rebuke to chauvinist, one-dimensional European portrayals of life in Africa.[2]

Discover more about Jaguar (1967 film) related topics

Jean Rouch

Jean Rouch

Jean Rouch was a French filmmaker and anthropologist.

Niger

Niger

Niger or the Niger, officially the Republic of the Niger, is a landlocked country in West Africa. It is a unitary state bordered by Libya to the northeast, Chad to the east, Nigeria to the south, Benin and Burkina Faso to the southwest, Mali to the west, and Algeria to the northwest. It covers a land area of almost 1,270,000 km2 (490,000 sq mi), making it the second-largest landlocked country in West Africa, after Chad. Over 80% of its land area lies in the Sahara. Its predominantly Muslim population of about 25 million live mostly in clusters in the further south and west of the country. The capital Niamey is located in Niger's southwest corner.

Damouré Zika

Damouré Zika

Damouré Zika was a Nigerien traditional healer, broadcaster, and film actor. Coming from a long line of traditional healers in the Sorko ethnic group of western Niger, Zika appeared in many of the films of French director Jean Rouch, becoming one of Niger's first actors. As a practitioner of traditional medicine, he opened a clinic in Niamey, and was for many years a broadcaster and commentator on health issues for Niger's national radio.

Gold Coast (British colony)

Gold Coast (British colony)

The Gold Coast was a British Crown colony on the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa from 1821 until its independence in 1957 as Ghana. The term Gold Coast is also often used to describe all of the four separate jurisdictions that were under the administration of the Governor of the Gold Coast. These were the Gold Coast itself, Ashanti, the Northern Territories Protectorate and the British Togoland trust territory.

Ghana

Ghana

Ghana, officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country in West Africa. It abuts the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean to the south, sharing borders with Ivory Coast in the west, Burkina Faso in the north, and Togo in the east. Ghana covers an area of 238,535 km2 (92,099 sq mi), spanning diverse biomes that range from coastal savannas to tropical rainforests. With nearly 31 million inhabitants, Ghana is the second-most populous country in West Africa, after Nigeria. The capital and largest city is Accra; other major cities are Kumasi, Tamale, and Sekondi-Takoradi.

Plot

The film follows three men from Niger: Lam, a cowherd, Illo, a fisherman, and Damouré Zika, an educated dandy. After a brief introduction detailing their lives in Niger, they visit a fortune teller, who warns them that the journey will be difficult, but that things will be very good for them when they return. The fortune teller also recommends that the three protagonists split up when they arrive in Gold Coast, as well as suggesting that they would reunite later on.

The three men then set out on foot to travel to the Gold Coast, seeking work, money, and adventure. Along the way, they encounter a wide variety of peoples and places, and have a series of whimsical interactions with them, alternately scavenging food and begging from local villagers. Upon reaching the border between Niger and the Gold Coast, guards demand papers, which they do not have. They eventually cross the border by walking behind the guard's backs.

Upon arriving in the Gold Coast, the three men split up, working odd-jobs as merchants, manual laborers, foremen, and gold miners in Kumasi and Accra. Damouré also attends a rally by the Nkrumaist Convention People's Party, and becomes notorious for being a jaguar, a slang term that is described as referring to a well-dressed, polite, and sharp young man. Eventually, the season ends, and the men return to their lives in Niger, bearing suitcases full of goods from the Gold Coast–they proceed to give away almost all of these possessions as gifts to other people living in their village. The film closes with narration from Rouch, comparing the journey of the film's characters to that of conquerors of a bygone era.

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Niger

Niger

Niger or the Niger, officially the Republic of the Niger, is a landlocked country in West Africa. It is a unitary state bordered by Libya to the northeast, Chad to the east, Nigeria to the south, Benin and Burkina Faso to the southwest, Mali to the west, and Algeria to the northwest. It covers a land area of almost 1,270,000 km2 (490,000 sq mi), making it the second-largest landlocked country in West Africa, after Chad. Over 80% of its land area lies in the Sahara. Its predominantly Muslim population of about 25 million live mostly in clusters in the further south and west of the country. The capital Niamey is located in Niger's southwest corner.

Cowman (profession)

Cowman (profession)

A cowman is a person who works specifically with cattle.

Damouré Zika

Damouré Zika

Damouré Zika was a Nigerien traditional healer, broadcaster, and film actor. Coming from a long line of traditional healers in the Sorko ethnic group of western Niger, Zika appeared in many of the films of French director Jean Rouch, becoming one of Niger's first actors. As a practitioner of traditional medicine, he opened a clinic in Niamey, and was for many years a broadcaster and commentator on health issues for Niger's national radio.

Kumasi

Kumasi

Kumasi is a city in the Ashanti Region, and is among the largest metropolitan areas in Ghana. Kumasi is located in a rain forest region near Lake Bosomtwe, and is the commercial, industrial, and cultural capital of the historical Ashanti Empire. Kumasi is approximately 500 kilometres (300 mi) north of the Equator and 200 kilometres (100 mi) north of the Gulf of Guinea. Kumasi is alternatively known as "The Garden City" because of its many species of flowers and plants in the past. It is also called Oseikrom.

Accra

Accra

Accra is the capital and largest city of Ghana, located on the southern coast at the Gulf of Guinea, which is part of the Atlantic Ocean. As of 2021 census, the Accra Metropolitan District, 20.4 km2 (7.9 sq mi), had a population of 284,124 inhabitants, and the larger Greater Accra Region, 3,245 km2 (1,253 sq mi), had a population of 5,455,692 inhabitants. In common usage, the name "Accra" often refers to the territory of the Accra Metropolitan District as it existed before 2008, when it covered 199.4 km2 (77.0 sq mi). This territory has since been split into 13 local government districts: 12 independent municipal districts and the reduced Accra Metropolitan District (20.4 km2), which is the only district within the capital to be granted city status. This territory of 199.4 km2 contained 1,782,150 inhabitants at the 2021 census, and serves as the capital of Ghana, while the district under the jurisdiction of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly proper (20.4 km2) is distinguished from the rest of the capital as the "City of Accra".

Nkrumaism

Nkrumaism

Nkrumaism is an African socialist political ideology based on the thinking and writing of Kwame Nkrumah. Nkrumah, a pan-Africanist and socialist, served as Prime Minister of the Gold Coast from 1952 until 1960 and subsequently as President of Ghana before being deposed by the National Liberation Council in 1966.

Convention People's Party

Convention People's Party

The Convention People's Party (CPP) is a socialist political party in Ghana based on the ideas of the first President of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah. The CPP was formed in June 1949 after Nkrumah broke away from the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC). Nkrumah was the then appointed Secretaty General of the UGCC when he was arrested by the leader of the UGCC and imprisoned for an alleged thought, plans and power against Kwame Nkrumah's leadership. Kwame Nkrumah then formed the Convention People's Party with support of some UGCC members and had a purpose for self governance. Upon Kwame Nkrumah's leadership with the CPP, he orgranized a non violent protest and strike for support of the purpose for self-governance which took him to imprisonment for a second time, but he was released after winning a massive vote by the CPP following the colonies election general election whilst he was in prison. The CPP followers supported Nkrumah's ideas and voted for him massive for power of self-governance. The articles discussed about the origins of Ghana political parties, the 1948 riot and the birth of the Convention People Party among others. Issues that led to the formation of the CPP, struggles with the colonial powers led by Kwame Nkrumah and finally the attainment of Ghana's independence were part of the key concerns for this write up.

Style and production

Jaguar's genre is difficult to classify, as it draws on techniques from both documentary film and narrative film.[1] Jean Rouch referred to the film as "cine-fiction", while others have labeled it "ethnofiction", referencing the film's use of techniques associated with ethnography.[1] The concept of the film was collaboratively developed by Rouch, Damoré, and Lam.[1]

The shots used in Jaguar were all filmed in 1954. Three years later, Rouch reunited with Damoré and Lam, who then were recorded chatting as they watched the recorded footage. This running commentary was then incorporated into the film, providing a playful narration for the events of the film that is instrumental in establishing the film's tone.[1]

Several of the scenes that appear to show Damouré, Lam, and Illo travelling or working are in fact fictionalized reenactments. None of the labor performed by the main characters was for a wage: they were compensated instead by Rouch. While the film purports to show them walking across West Africa for months, in reality they traveled most of the distance in Rouch's Land Rover.[3]

Throughout the film, Rouch and the narrators toy with the audience's pre-existing expectations of the film's subjects.[1] For instance, in one sequence, the three travelers pass through a Somba village where everyone walks around nearly naked.[3] At first, Damoré and Lam are dismissive of the Somba, whom they see as primitives, but soon change their opinions and defend the villagers' customs as being perfectly reasonable, while identifying that they themselves are outsiders in this context (to say nothing of audiences in France, who would have been even further removed from the villagers than the film's subjects). Rouch's sensitivity to other cultures in his cinematic approach predates the popularity of academic critiques of Orientalism by several decades, and can be seen as a rebuke of European chauvinism and racism,[1] as well as a demonstration of the means by which indigenous people can reclaim their narratives.[2]

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Documentary film

Documentary film

A documentary film or documentary is a non-fictional motion-picture intended to "document reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction, education or maintaining a historical record". Bill Nichols has characterized the documentary in terms of "a filmmaking practice, a cinematic tradition, and mode of audience reception [that remains] a practice without clear boundaries".

Narrative film

Narrative film

Narrative film, fictional film or fiction film is a motion picture that tells a fictional or fictionalized story, event or narrative. Commercial narrative films with running times of over an hour are often referred to as feature films, or feature-length films. The earliest narrative films, around the turn of the 20th century, were essentially filmed stage plays and for the first three or four decades these commercial productions drew heavily upon the centuries-old theatrical tradition.

Ethnography

Ethnography

Ethnography is a branch of anthropology and the systematic study of individual cultures. Ethnography explores cultural phenomena from the point of view of the subject of the study. Ethnography is also a type of social research that involves examining the behavior of the participants in a given social situation and understanding the group members' own interpretation of such behavior.

Somba people

Somba people

The Somba people, also called Ditamari, are an African ethnic group found primarily in northwestern Benin and northern Togo. The name is a generic term for the Betammaribe and related peoples, who make up about 8% of Benin’s population. Their language is the "Ditammari language", also known as Tamberma, and it is a northern branch of the Niger-Congo family of languages.

Orientalism

Orientalism

In art history, literature and cultural studies, Orientalism is the imitation or depiction of aspects in the Eastern world. These depictions are usually done by writers, designers, and artists from the Western world. In particular, Orientalist painting, depicting more specifically the Middle East, was one of the many specialisms of 19th-century academic art, and the literature of Western countries took a similar interest in Oriental themes.

Chauvinism

Chauvinism

Chauvinism is the unreasonable belief in the superiority or dominance of one's own group or people, who are seen as strong and virtuous, while others are considered weak, unworthy, or inferior. It can be described as a form of extreme patriotism and nationalism, a fervent faith in national excellence and glory.

Racism

Racism

Racism is the belief that groups of humans possess different behavioral traits corresponding to inherited attributes and can be divided based on the superiority of one race over another. It may also mean prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against other people because they are of a different race or ethnicity. Modern variants of racism are often based in social perceptions of biological differences between peoples. These views can take the form of social actions, practices or beliefs, or political systems in which different races are ranked as inherently superior or inferior to each other, based on presumed shared inheritable traits, abilities, or qualities. There have been attempts to legitimize racist beliefs through scientific means, such as scientific racism, which have been overwhelmingly shown to be unfounded. In terms of political systems that support the expression of prejudice or aversion in discriminatory practices or laws, racist ideology may include associated social aspects such as nativism, xenophobia, otherness, segregation, hierarchical ranking, and supremacism.

Indigenous peoples

Indigenous peoples

Indigenous peoples are culturally distinct ethnic groups whose members are directly descended from the earliest known inhabitants of a particular geographic region and, to some extent, maintain the language and culture of those original peoples. The term Indigenous was first, in its modern context, used by Europeans, who used it to differentiate the Indigenous peoples of the Americas from the European settlers of the Americas and from the Sub-Saharan Africans who were brought to the Americas as enslaved people. The term may have first been used in this context by Sir Thomas Browne in 1646, who stated "and although in many parts thereof there be at present swarms of Negroes serving under the Spaniard, yet were they all transported from Africa, since the discovery of Columbus; and are not indigenous or proper natives of America."

Reception and legacy

The film premiered on September 3, 1967, at the Venice Film Festival. On its general release, Jaguar was well received by audiences and critics in France.[1] Rouch's approach to the subject material was praised as a humanistic and lyrical response to the frequently dehumanizing nature of ethnographic sciences.[1]

Rouch commented that Jaguar did a better job documenting the phenomena of seasonal migration in Niger than his actual scientific monographs on the subject.[3]

Source: "Jaguar (1967 film)", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 25th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaguar_(1967_film).

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References
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Stoller, Paul (1992). The Cinematic Griot: The Ethnography of Jean Rouch. University of Chicago Press. pp. 138–143. ISBN 0226775488.
  2. ^ a b Ginsburg, Faye (Fall 1995). "The Parallax Effect: The Impact of Aboriginal Media on Ethnographic Film" (PDF). Visual Anthropology Review. 11 (2): 67. doi:10.1525/var.1995.11.2.64.
  3. ^ a b c Henley, Paul (2010). The Adventure of the Real: Jean Rouch and the Craft of Ethnographic Cinema. University of Chicago Press. pp. 73, 74, 81. ISBN 978-0226327167.

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