Thursday, March 7, 2013

379. Chronique d'un ete/Chronicle of a Summer (1961)

Running Time: 85 minutes
Directed By: Edgar Morin, Jean Rouch
Main Cast: Marceline Loridan Ivens, Marilu Parolini, Jean Rouch

Note: "Chronicle of a Summer", along with another movie that I'll be watching and reviewing soon, came to me all the way from the United Kingdom, via my most frequent commenter and ONE OF the first, Ray. I want to take a minute to thank Ray for allowing me to borrow two of his DVDs. Prior to our correspondence with one another (both here at the blog and through various e-mails) Ray and I were total strangers. I commend him for putting his trust in me and can only hope that I would be just as trusting a person to someone in need. Ray has now officially helped me to accomplish my goal of seeing all 1001 movies on the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" list and for that, I will always be grateful. Thank you Ray.


So this is a review that won't take long because despite my immense gratitude for being able to see it, I really didn't care for it that much and on top of that, it's pretty short, so I should be able to get to the point fairly quickly.

"Chronicle of a Summer" is an experiment performed by Edgar Morin and Jean Rouch (see "The Mad Masters"), one of which is a sociologist (Morin) and the other an anthropologist and filmmaker (Rouch). The experiment deals with trying to capture people's real emotions, conversations and interactions and whether or not the presence of a camera will alter the reality of their responses. Morin and Rouch follow several subjects to see whether or not they can capture realism on film, including Angelo, a poor factory worker, Marceline, a holocaust survivor and Marilu, a secretary. Morin and Rouch also travel to Saint-Tropez to interview "Saint-Tropez girl" Sophie. Near the end of the film, Morin and Rouch bring all of their subjects to a special screening of the finished film and gather their opinions on what they've seen and whether or not they think the reactions were real or simply a group of people performing for the camera.

Yeah, I just wasn't interested in this particular experiment. I'm not saying it was awful or anything, simply that it just wasn't for me. I'll reference back to that quote I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in one of my Ozu reviews, about any human interaction being worthy of our attention. While I DID agree with that line, I do feel that "Chronicle of a Summer" felt more like a staged interaction. While Morin and Rouch were looking to capture realism, I feel that by placing too much emphasis on the fact that there was a camera present, only served to make me feel like the whole thing was a big contrivance. I feel that these people didn't react naturally and that they WERE probably putting on more of a show than they normally would have, even though they weren't acting particularly over the top. Most of their interactions and conversations were quite normal and subtle, and while I didn't really care for it that much, there were certain segments that worked for me. I DID enjoy the piece with Angelo, where we followed him from the time he woke-up to the time he went back to sleep. It made me realize that someone needs to make a feature film (whether documentary of fictional) about a man waking, going about his day and then going back to bed - no story, just basic everyday life, voyeurism, if you will.

Anyway, I'll leave it at that. I'm glad I finally got to check it out and see what all the hubbub was about, but trust me, it's not a "must see" and you can certainly go to your grave without laying your eyes upon this one. In fact, I'd like to know which of THE BOOK contributors is related to Jean Rouch, because that's the only plausible conclusion I can come up with for why this AND "The Mad Masters" were included as "must see" choices.

RATING: 3.5/10  Not awful, just an experiment that didn't work for me. I appreciated the effort though and certainly Edgar Morin wanted desperately for this to work, which apparently it did, because my opinion IS NOT the be all, end all and it DID make it's way into THE BOOK.


March 7, 2013  5:46pm


  1. My pleasure Andrew- Glad to help. Pity it couldn't have been something much better!
    I thought this one wasn't too bad.. a bit drawn out, a bit self indulgent, and as you say and even the makers agree, perhaps not an overly succesful experiment.

    If anyone else is stuggling to find this, I bought this from a dealer in the USA, who had many, many other 1001 films for sale. I won't give a direct link, but I found it this way..
    There is another auction selling site, simular to Ebay called ioffer. very easy to google. Once there, search for such rare tities as Chronicle, Man who had his hair..Maitres Fou,Through the olive trees, Housewife, Tale of the wind.. There is one dealer who sells all those and many more.
    It works slightly different to ebay, in that you get a quoted price, and you 'offer' - especialy for multiple oders- which the seller accepts or rejects.
    Now, the reason I won't give a direct link is that I will not take responsability of a 'recomendation'. Some people say beware of ioffer. They offer NO customer protection in the way Ebay do. If you have a problem, it is between the two of you. That said, the seller I used has been selling for several years and has a 100% record. His seller name starts with tjb. He takes Paypal, and I trust him, but won't advertise for him.

    1. Thanks for posting that information Ray. I'm sure passers by to my blog will find it helpful.


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