List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 744/1007Title: Chronique d’un été (Chronicle of a Summer)
Director: Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin
It’s only been a few days since coming home from Paris and I’m already finding myself looking back fondly at the time I spent there. You know the drill, “oh just a few days ago…” sort of things. Anyway, when I saw that Chronique d’un été had the subtitle ‘Paris 1960’ well the choice of what film to watch this afternoon was obvious. I mean this sounded like a documentary about life in Paris, right?
Well not quite. Chronique d’un été is an experiment in documentary as an art form. It’s the film that coined the term ‘cinema vérité’ and dabbles in the big question that we continue to ask when watching reality television – can you capture reality when people know the cameras are rolling. For this legacy alone, Chronique d’un été deserves it’s place in history and on the list. However, for me, this no longer plays as an interesting film to fill 90 minutes.
Since this is an experiment in a new cinema varient, there are going to be some areas that have since been ironed out. For example, there’s no real structure until the final 5-10 minutes which has the films subjects (who have watched the film up to this point) critique on whether the displayed film has depicted truth or not. It’s an interesting way to bring the film back to the original question… since by this point they meandered so much that you’ve probably forgotten.
So yes, whilst I am glad to have seen this as a part of cinema history – Chronique d’un été wasn’t really the film for me. Probably didn’t help that they appeared to have roped in some random black friends for when they shot the scene where they were talking about war in the Congo… or that they had to sit and smile as one of the white subjects (who, to be fair, was previously interned in a concentration camp) went on about how she wouldn’t be able to all in love with someone who was black. Kinda felt too set up for it to be truly naturalistic.