Flim Review on Jaguar by Jean Rouch

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Tjoeng Eileen U010696W

Film Review of Jaguar by Jean Rouch

The film is about Rouch’s three friends migrating into the Gold Coast, and working as migrants there. The film starts creating suspense with a black screen and only introductory subtitles. Rouch’s voice-over follows and he introduces himself in native language, with the subtitles still present. He goes on to introduce his subjects, his three friends, one by one. He gives and introductory note to each subject prior to their self-introduction, allowing us to know what he thinks of them. The subjects themselves then start to introduce themselves to the audience. This dual introduction from Rouch and the subjects themselves allows the audience to have more than one account about each individual subject, hence providing perspective.

Looking at the filmmaker-subject relationship, we detect elements of ‘participatory cinema’. Rouch was concerned with showing his subjects the footages, teaming up with them and also included their own voices as commentary. There is constant discussion voiced-over the film as the subjects move along. We can conclude that their relationship is a rather interactive one. Some parts of the film also seemed more fictional than ethnographic, for example, the scene where the migrants visit the diviner. The entire event looked more aesthetic, because the diviner is made to look very mystical and the lighting was deliberating made dim to create the ambience. Such parts in the film look more like collaborative work amongst Rouch and his subjects. In the marketplace scenes, the crowd looked somewhat oblivious to the camera. As it is quite impossible that the crowd there is used to the camera, Rouch might have alerted the crowd beforehand to ignore the camera. The awareness of the camera leads to an interesting effect called ‘cine-provocation’, where the camera acts as a catalyst to make people behave how they otherwise would not. The relationship between the Rouch and the audience...
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