« Chronicle of a summer » is a documentary film made during the summer of 1960 by sociologist Edgar Morin and anthropologist and filmmaker Jean Rouch.
At the time, two types of cinemas distinguished themselves which are the “cinema direct” also called “fly on the wall” by the American and the “cinema vérité”. The “cinema direct”, that Edgar Morin uses, consists of an absence of the director in the film. The director has to be as discrete as possible, never intervene. On the other hand, the “cinema vérité”, that Jean Rouch uses, claims subjectivity.
“Chronicle of a summer” is torn between Rouch’s vision as well as Morin’s vision. For instance Marceline’s monologue represents Rouch’s vision because of the pre-recorded voice, this monologue was planned. On the other side, we have Marilou’s interview where we can feel Morin’s influence because of its sincerity, the emotions that Marilou shows in this scene were not planned. Another distinction of this film, (which is actually Rouch’s particularity) is that it includes what happens during the shooting as well as what happens during the showing.
Considering what has been analysed, the point that I am attempting to make is, are there any differences from today’s reality shows such as” Big Brother”?
Except the obvious fact that “Chronicle of a summer” is a documentary and that “Big Brother” is pure entertainment, what makes them different?
In many reality TV programs, camera shooting and footage editing give the viewer the impression that they are passive observers following people going about their daily personal and professional activities; this style of filming is often referred to as fly on the wall or “cinema direct”. Story "plots" are often constructed via editing or planned situations, with the results resembling soap opera. In other shows a “cinema vérité” style is adopted, where the filmmaker is more than a passive observer, their presence and influence is greatly manifested. Reality TV programs are supposed to have been created as a social experiment but I think this is an excuse to justify humiliations that the participants endure and more than that, to justify the fact that we like to watch them.
In this case, “Chronicle of a summer” is quite naïve in his will to film the truth (first scene with Marceline), in his sincere question: which character are we playing in front of the camera and in real life....?
Just a quote from Jean Rouch that I particularly like:
The « cinema vérité », said J. Rouch, is made of lies (which), by chance, are more real than the truth”