Saturday, December 1, 2012

288. Les maitres fous/The Mad Masters (1955)

Running Time: 36 minutes
Directed By: Jean Rouch
Main Cast: (narrator): Jean Rouch


This is replacing "Mediterranee" from the FINAL 15 list, because that movie, while on YouTube, has subtitles that are severely out of sync. Therefore, in order to replace something short with something short, I've chosen Rouch's "The Mad Masters".

Rouch's film chronicles a day in the Hauka movement - a movement that consisted of African laborers and commoners coming together to perform a ritual where they'd enter into a trace-like state and mimic British Colonial Administrators. Yeah...I couldn't make this stuff up! Rouch himself provides the narration and we're "treated" to a front row seat to watch these people foam at the mouth, butcher animals and become possessed, all for the sake of imitating their oppressors. At least it's short and if I can be positive, I will say that it gave me a glimpse at a culture I hadn't experienced before. I'm always grateful for new experience, but I think this is an experience I could've done without. The ending of the film is also quite interesting, as Rouch takes a moment to follow these people the day after the ceremony, as we watch them return to very normal lives.

There's really not a lot to get into here. I watched it, I earned my 599th tick mark and now I can move on. I tried my best to appreciate it, at least what I could and ultimately it just ends up being a third turd in the punch bowl here, on December 1st. I would deem it "unrateable" but I don't think it fully qualifies for that. It had a beginning, an end and it was a documentary film - albeit a short one - with a purpose.

RATING: 2/10  I feel like I'm cheating or something by watching all these short movies at the end of this 100. Oh well, it's a long journey, so short cuts are necessary.


December 1, 2012  3:04pm


  1. You know, I couldn't help suspecting at times they HAD made it up. Sorry, that sounds very condeming of both the makers and the people being filmed, but..
    I was constantly reminded of 'Land without bread' (have you done that one yet?) which certainly had invented - or at least faked- chunks.
    Still, let us be polite andallow it was all true- and there is no real reason to doubt it. It was an intriguing Ethnographicl documentary that would have been fine on BBC 4, but as a 1001? Not so sure. I enjoyed 'Chronicle' more.

    1. The faking never crossed my mind, but it's certainly a possibility. And yes, I too liked "Chronicle" better.


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