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Paroles (film)

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Paroles is a feature-length documentary film in the form of interview, composed of a series of conversations with Jean Rouch, filmed by Ricardo Costa at the Musée de l'Homme in Paris, between April and May 1998.

Paroles[edit | edit source]

In Paroles, together with Rouch, are two key figures from the team of the Ethnographic Film Committee of the Musée de l'Homme, Germaine Dieterlen, a fellow of Marcel Griaule in research in the 1930s and Brice Ahounou, then “(…) a young collaborator who led for some time the "Sessions of Wednesday" at the cinema hall of the museum of Palais de Chaillot, where were screened, followed by a debate, films on the phenomena of the trance and the possession (Cit. article published at the French newspaper L'Humanité [1]).

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

The fox[edit | edit source]

1 – The Pale Fox (Le Renard pâle) [2][3] (Jean Rouch)

Traditional African cultures and those of ancient Greece. The myth of the fox in Dogon country. Mythologies and their relatedness: Africa, Europe, Middle East, Japan.[4] Surrealism and creativity.

The twin sister[edit | edit source]

2 – The Twin Sister (La sœur jumelle) [5] (Jean Rouch with Germaine Dieterlen)

Germaine Dieterlen refers to possession by the mask or the trance. The fox, master of disorder or the creative man. The Apollonian spirit and the Dionysian spirit as opposing attitudes in the culture of the West. The universality of myth.

The stranger body[edit | edit source]

3 – The stranger body (Le corps étranger) Jean Rouch, Germaine Dieterlen, Brice Ahounou

Possession, ritual practice, phenomenon studied by Freud and well known by Christianity. Ecstasy and demonic possession. The trance, a body technique legated by Africa to Brazil and the Americas. The historical and social system engendered by colonialism and bypassed by Africa. Links of blood and culture: miscegenation and the spiritual legacy of blackness. Music and rhythm: the slaves of Brazil and of the United States. The blues.


TV version of Paroles (The fox and the stranger body), Mai 2006, 57 minutes.


Long version[edit | edit source]

1 – Mask and possession (Jean Rouch)

Traditional African cultures. Mythologies and their relatedness : Africa, Europe and the Middle East. The role of the mask in the theater of origins.

2 - Possession and trance (Possession et transe) (Jean Rouch avec Germaine Dieterlen)

Possession through the mask or the trance. The Dogon myth of the Pale Fox, the creative Man. Human migrations and the universality of the myth.

3 - Africa (Afrique) (Brice Ahounou without Jean Rouch)

The populations of West Africa [6] before the fifteenth century. Elmina and the role of the Portuguese and the colonial expansion. The Atlantic slave trade, the spread of Orisha and Voodoo cultures from Africa to the Americas. Miscegenation, cultural symbiosis, return movements.

4 - Meetings (Rencontres) (Jean Rouch, Germaine Dieterlen, Brice Ahounou)

Possession, ritual practice known by Christianity : ecstasy and demonic possession. The trance, technique of the body, pagan practice current in Africa, Brazil and the Americas.

5 - Drifts (Dérives) (Jean Rouch, Germaine Dieterlen, Brice Ahounou)

Historical and social system engendered by colonialism and bypassed by Africa. Links of blood and culture: miscegenation and spiritual legacies of negritude. Music and rhythm: El Salvador songs and New Orleans jazz.


NOTE : the long version of Paroles corresponds to the first editing of the film made in 1998.


Nigeria, Nok, Sculpture, wood, XVI century
Anthropomorpic representation by the ‘Oblique Eye Master’, wood, Mali, 17th / 18th centuries

Mythologies in Paroles[edit | edit source]

Credits[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Brice Ahounou, passeur d’images nécessaire à la mémoire des mondes (Brice Ahounou, image smuggler necessary to the memory of the worlds), article at French L'Humanité newspaper, 20 July 2017
  2. Sur les traces du renard pâle, en pays Dogon (On the trail of the pale fox, in Dogon country) – film in French)
  3. Réflexions sur le Renard Pâle et deux anthropologies : À propos du surréalisme et de l'anthropologie française (About surrealism and French anthropology) – article par Mary Douglas at French / Perseus
  4. The fox in Japon. In the film, Germaine Dieterlen refers to the existence of the fox myth in Japan
  5. "Neuroscientists Confirm That Strangers Can Become Ourselves | Psychology Today South Africa". psychologytoday.com. Retrieved 2019-09-14.
  6. Western Africa at United Nations
  7. Celtic Creation/download/CELTIC_CREATION.pdf Celtic Creation at The Big Myth
  8. "exhibitions - Mário Cabrita Gil". mariocabritagil.com. Retrieved 2019-09-14.
  9. Guillaume Sciama sur IMDb
  10. Thomas Gastinel at BFI

Related films[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]


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