The Human Pyramid
Directed by Jean Rouch • Documentary • 1961 • 93 minutes
At the Lycée Français of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Rouch worked with students there who willingly enacted a story about the arrival of a new white girl, Nadine, and her effect on the interactions of and interracial relationships between the white colonial French and Black African classmates, all non-actors. Fomenting a dramatic situation instead of repeating one, Rouch extended the experiments he had undertaken in Chronicle of a Summer, including having on-camera student participants view rushes of the film midway through the story. The docu-drama shows how working together to make the film changes their attitude towards each other.
"Seminal; this groundbreaking metafiction by the French ethnographic filmmaker Jean Rouch is as much a political experiment as an artistic one. Rouch has a keen eye for the landscape and an avid tenderness for his performers." —The New Yorker