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554 Ratings

The Mad Masters

Les maîtres fous

Directed by Jean Rouch
France, 1957
Documentary, Short


Filmed it Ghana, the film depicts the annual ceremony of the Hauku cult, a social and religious movement which was widespread in French colonial Africa from the 1920’s to the 1950’s. In a shared trance, the participants begin to mimic the elaborate military ceremonies of their colonial occupiers…

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The Mad Masters Directed by Jean Rouch

Critics reviews

A masterwork of “thick description”. . . . Rouch is trying to articulate the ritual as its participants experience it, moment by moment, as a series of decisions and sensations.
January 03, 2019
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Rouch himself narrates in English, and the occasional awkwardness of his phrasing and pronunciation—“riffles” for “rifles,” for instance—helps to isolate this film from the pseudo- objectivity of conventional documentaries of the kind generally shown on PBS.
November 01, 1990
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