Les maîtres fous
I really do not know what to say about this movie. It is one of those occasions where the Book comes up with a film that just baffles me. Both in relation to the subject matter and to why this is at all on the list. All I can do is describe what this is about.
Les maîtres fous is a short film, only half an hour, and supposed to be an anthropological documentary about a cult in Africa. We start in the city of Accra in Ghana, which represents colonial African modernity. From here we follow some people leaving the city into the hinterland and some cultic stage where they take part in an annual ritual. These are the Hauka. Through the majority of the film these people will become possessed and imitate their colonial lords in movements and talk with froth hanging from their mouths and white showing in their eyes. They will kill and eat a dog raw and generally be a disgusting sight. Finally they will leave the site and return to their normal life and the last few minutes is devoted to a presentation of the characters in the normal mundane surroundings.
The entire affair is vigorously narrated by a French dude, which I assume is Jean Rouch, the director, himself. He narrates matter-of-factly, but he has an awful lot on his mind as if this was an hour long piece cooked down and now he is in a hurry to cover it all. During the trance he seems to be inferring a lot from the acts, but I have no way of knowing if it is true or if he is making it up as he goes.
The only two feelings this piece leaves me with is confusion and revulsion. I do not know why I should watch this and what it means. So, some Africans have a strange and, frankly, gross cult where they imitate their colonial masters. Okay. And? I suppose this has some anthropological or ethnographical value, but outside those circles this looks more like a sideshow, meant to shock and revolt.
Is this the first time someone went into the bush to film a cultic ritual? Or is it some kind of convoluted anticolonial piece as Wikipedia hint at? I have no idea and frankly I do not care. I like to travel the world, I like to see other cultures and experience how big a world we live in, but I did not need to see this movie. This is just a tick on the List. Tick. Done.