Jean Rouch on the Gold Coast @ REDCAT
REDCAT: Jaguar (shot 1954–55, premiered 1967) preceded by Les Maîtres fous (The Mad Masters, 1955).
These two films compose a fascinating portrait of the dislocation created by colonialism in Africa. Once controversial, but now an anthropological classic, Les Maîtres fous (28 mins.) documents a Hauka possession ceremony, during which the participants mimic figures of the colonial power. With Jaguar (90 mins.), Rouch invented ciné-fiction, a mix of ethnology and improvised narrative. A gallant public writer, a shepherd and a fisherman—portrayed respectively by non-professional actors Damouré Zika, Lam Ibrahim Dia and Illo Gaoudel—leave their village to try their luck on the fabled Gold Coast (modern-day Ghana). In Accra, Damouré becomes a “jaguar”—a city slicker. As sync sound was not available then, the three buddies jovially comment on the action after the fact, observing that the Brits royally conned Africa out of its gold. Read more