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The Human Pyramid (1961 film)

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The Human Pyramid
The Human Pyramid (1961 film) poster.jpg
FrenchLa Pyramide humaine
Directed byJean Rouch
Written byJean Rouch
Produced byPierre Braunberger
CinematographyLouis Miaille
Roger Morillière
Jean Rouch
Edited byGeneviève Bastid
Marie-Josèphe Yoyotte
Production
company
Les Films de la Pléiade
Release date
  • 19 April 1961 (1961-04-19)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryIvory Coast
LanguageFrench

The Human Pyramid (French: La Pyramide humaine) is a 1961 Ivorian docufiction film directed by Jean Rouch.[1][2] Rouch forced black African and white French students to improvise interactions with each other at an integrated high school in Abidjan.[3]

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French language

French language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the Latin spoken in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast, also known as Côte d'Ivoire, officially the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, is a country on the southern coast of West Africa. Its capital is Yamoussoukro, in the centre of the country, while its largest city and economic centre is the port city of Abidjan. It borders Guinea to the northwest, Liberia to the west, Mali to the northwest, Burkina Faso to the northeast, Ghana to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south. Its official language is French, and indigenous languages are also widely used, including Bété, Baoulé, Dioula, Dan, Anyin, and Cebaara Senufo. In total, there are around 78 different languages spoken in Ivory Coast. The country has a religiously diverse population, including numerous followers of Christianity, Islam, and indigenous faiths.

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.

Jean Rouch

Jean Rouch

Jean Rouch was a French filmmaker and anthropologist.

Abidjan

Abidjan

Abidjan is the economic capital of the Ivory Coast. As of the 2021 census, Abidjan's population was 6.3 million, which is 21.5 percent of overall population of the country, making it the sixth most populous city proper in Africa, after Lagos, Cairo, Kinshasa, Dar es Salaam, and Johannesburg. A cultural crossroads of West Africa, Abidjan is characterised by a high level of industrialisation and urbanisation. It also is one of the most populous French-speaking cities in Africa.

Plot

Rouch took the title of his film from a poem by the Surrealist Paul Eluard.[4] In Abidjan in newly-independent Ivory Coast, the film sees a mixed-race lycée class in which the filmmaker asks why white and black students do not mix together socially after class. They are interviewed separately and together, and are shown in their home environments and meeting together socially. They also improvise scenes of fantasized events.[5] Racial tensions intensify when a new female student from Paris starts dating an African student. The film is both ethnofiction and a documentary account of making ethnofiction:[6] counterposed to the main plot of the relation between the two racial groups is a subplot, which is the effect on the student actors of the making of the film itself.[4]

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Abidjan

Abidjan

Abidjan is the economic capital of the Ivory Coast. As of the 2021 census, Abidjan's population was 6.3 million, which is 21.5 percent of overall population of the country, making it the sixth most populous city proper in Africa, after Lagos, Cairo, Kinshasa, Dar es Salaam, and Johannesburg. A cultural crossroads of West Africa, Abidjan is characterised by a high level of industrialisation and urbanisation. It also is one of the most populous French-speaking cities in Africa.

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast, also known as Côte d'Ivoire, officially the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, is a country on the southern coast of West Africa. Its capital is Yamoussoukro, in the centre of the country, while its largest city and economic centre is the port city of Abidjan. It borders Guinea to the northwest, Liberia to the west, Mali to the northwest, Burkina Faso to the northeast, Ghana to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south. Its official language is French, and indigenous languages are also widely used, including Bété, Baoulé, Dioula, Dan, Anyin, and Cebaara Senufo. In total, there are around 78 different languages spoken in Ivory Coast. The country has a religiously diverse population, including numerous followers of Christianity, Islam, and indigenous faiths.

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.

Production

La Pyramide humaine was made on 16 mm Eastmancolor film in a 1.37:1 aspect ratio.[7][8] The production of La pyramide humaine, between summer 1959 and spring 1960, coincided with the climax of independence movements across French-speaking Africa: fifteen African colonies claimed independence from France between September 1958 and October 1960.[6]

Reception

The film was banned by colonial authorities through most of Francophone Africa.[4]

Richard I. Suchenski notes that by ending the film with the (fictional) suicide of one of the students "Rouch forces the viewers to re-evaluate what they have just seen, drawing attention both to the inevitable presence of fictional tendencies within even the most uncontrolled filmmaking situation."[9]

François Truffaut places La Pyramide humaine among a group of films that "correspond to the new novel and those that aspire to be sociological documents or testimonies."[10]

Source: "The Human Pyramid (1961 film)", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 25th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Human_Pyramid_(1961_film).

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References
  1. ^ Waugh, Thomas (November 16, 2017). The conscience of cinema: The works of Joris Ivens 1912-1989. Amsterdam University Press. ISBN 9789048525256 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ "THE HUMAN PYRAMID | Cinematheque". www.cia.edu.
  3. ^ Ivone Margulies, The real in-balance in Jean Rouch's La Pyramide Humaine
  4. ^ a b c Dina Sherzer (1996). Cinema, Colonialism, Postcolonialism: Perspectives from the French and Francophone Worlds. University of Texas Press. pp. 73–4. ISBN 978-0-292-77703-3.
  5. ^ Wead, George; Lellis, George (September 11, 1981). Film, Form and Function. Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 9780395297407 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ a b Graham Jones, A Diplomacy of Dreams: Jean Rouch and Decolonization, American Anthropologist, Vol. 107, No. 1 (March 2005), pp.118–120.
  7. ^ "The Human Pyramid (1961) - IMDb" – via www.imdb.com.
  8. ^ "Scheda film".
  9. ^ Suchenski, Richard I. (June 30, 2016). Projections of Memory: Romanticism, Modernism, and the Aesthetics of Film. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780190614089 – via Google Books.
  10. ^ Gillain, Anne (March 6, 2017). Truffaut on Cinema. Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253026569 – via Google Books.
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