Chronicle of a Summer

Director: Edgar Morin and Jean Rouch
Year Released: 1961
Rating: 3.0

Sociologist Morin and filmmaker Rouch come up with a simple plan: go around the streets of Paris asking people if they're happy and record the responses. This concept takes flight, however, and before you know it this 'documentary' covers all sorts of territory: what it's like to be an African living in France, the conflict with Algeria, a Jewish woman's experience in a concentration camp during WWII and so on. Its formlessness is both an asset and something of a negative (it feels like the work of an amateur instead of one of France's most important documentarians), and the ending is kind-of a cheap meta-trick, with Morin and Rouch pulling together the participants to criticize each other and the construction of the picture itself (whether this is scripted or not - or if any of it's scripted - is unclear), though this maneuver could actually be read as a critique of the audience by the filmmakers to not believe everything seen or told regardless of medium. This, I'll admit, is valuable advice.