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Les maîtres fous

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Les maîtres fous
Les maitres fous title still.jpg
Directed byJean Rouch
Release date
  • 1955 (1955)
Running time
28 minutes[1]
36 minutes (long cut)
CountryFrance
LanguageFrench

Les maîtres fous (French: [le mɛːtʁ fu]; "The Mad Masters") is a 1955 short film directed by Jean Rouch, a well-known French film director and ethnologist. It is a docufiction, his first ethnofiction, a genre he is considered to have created.

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Short film

Short film

A short film is any motion picture that is short enough in running time not to be considered a feature film. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences defines a short film as "an original motion picture that has a running time of 40 minutes or less, including all credits". In the United States, short films were generally termed short subjects from the 1920s into the 1970s when confined to two 35 mm reels or less, and featurettes for a film of three or four reels. "Short" was an abbreviation for either term.

Jean Rouch

Jean Rouch

Jean Rouch was a French filmmaker and anthropologist.

France

France

France, officially the French Republic, is a country primarily located in Western Europe. It also includes overseas regions and territories in the Americas and the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, giving it one of the largest discontiguous exclusive economic zones in the world. Its metropolitan area extends from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean and from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea; overseas territories include French Guiana in South America, Saint Pierre and Miquelon in the North Atlantic, the French West Indies, and many islands in Oceania and the Indian Ocean. Its eighteen integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 km2 (248,573 sq mi) and contain 68 million people.

Film director

Film director

A film director controls a film's artistic and dramatic aspects and visualizes the screenplay while guiding the film crew and actors in the fulfilment of that vision. The director has a key role in choosing the cast members, production design and all the creative aspects of filmmaking.

Docufiction

Docufiction

Docufiction is the cinematographic combination of documentary and fiction, this term often meaning narrative film. It is a film genre which attempts to capture reality such as it is and which simultaneously introduces unreal elements or fictional situations in narrative in order to strengthen the representation of reality using some kind of artistic expression.

Ethnofiction

Ethnofiction

Ethnofiction refers to a subfield of ethnography which produces works that introduces art, in the form of storytelling, "thick descriptions and conversational narratives", and even first-person autobiographical accounts, into peer-reviewed academic works.

Genre

Genre

Genre is any form or type of communication in any mode with socially-agreed-upon conventions developed over time. In popular usage, it normally describes a category of literature, music, or other forms of art or entertainment, whether written or spoken, audio or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria, yet genres can be aesthetic, rhetorical, communicative, or functional. Genres form by conventions that change over time as cultures invent new genres and discontinue the use of old ones. Often, works fit into multiple genres by way of borrowing and recombining these conventions. Stand-alone texts, works, or pieces of communication may have individual styles, but genres are amalgams of these texts based on agreed-upon or socially inferred conventions. Some genres may have rigid, strictly adhered-to guidelines, while others may show great flexibility.

Historical background

The subject of the film was the Hauka movement. The Hauka movement consisted of mimicry and dancing to become possessed by British Colonial administrators. The participants performed the same elaborate military ceremonies of their colonial occupiers, but in more of a trance than true recreation.

The Hauka movement, according to some anthropologists was a form of resistance that began in Niger, but spread to other parts of Africa. According to some anthropologists, this pageant, though historic, was largely done to mock their authority by stealing their powers. Hauka members were not trying to emulate Europeans, but were trying to extract their life force – something "entirely African".

This stance has been heavily criticized by anthropologist James G. Ferguson who finds this imitation not about importing colonialism into indigenous culture, but more a way to gain rights and status in the colonial society. The adoption of European customs was not so much a form of resistance, but to be "respected by the Europeans."[2]

Les maîtres fous offended both colonial authorities and African students alike. Indeed, the film was so controversial that it was banned first in Niger, and then in British territories including Ghana.[2] The film was considered offensive to colonial authorities because of the Africans' blatant attempts to mimic and mock the "white oppressors". On the other hand, African students, teachers, and directors found the film to perpetrate an "exotic racism" of the African people.[2]

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Hauka

Hauka

The Hauka movement was a religious movement which arose in French Colonial Africa. It consisted of ceremonies, including mimicry and dancing, in which the participants performed the elaborate military ceremonies of their colonial occupiers. It was depicted in Les maîtres fous, a short film directed by Jean Rouch, a well-known French film director and ethnologist.

United Kingdom

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands within the British Isles. Northern Ireland shares a land border with the Republic of Ireland; otherwise, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel, the Celtic Sea and the Irish Sea. The total area of the United Kingdom is 242,495 square kilometres (93,628 sq mi), with an estimated 2020 population of more than 67 million people.

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.

Africa

Africa

Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of its land area. With 1.4 billion people as of 2021, it accounts for about 18% of the world's human population. Africa's population is the youngest amongst all the continents; the median age in 2012 was 19.7, when the worldwide median age was 30.4. Despite a wide range of natural resources, Africa is the least wealthy continent per capita and second-least wealthy by total wealth, behind Oceania. Scholars have attributed this to different factors including geography, climate, tribalism, colonialism, the Cold War, neocolonialism, lack of democracy, and corruption. Despite this low concentration of wealth, recent economic expansion and the large and young population make Africa an important economic market in the broader global context.

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.

Source: "Les maîtres fous", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 25th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_maîtres_fous.

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Further reading
  • James G. Ferguson (2002). "Of Mimicry and Membership: Africans and the "New World Society"". American Anthropological Society. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
See also
External links

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