Monday, October 24, 2011

The Mad Masters (Rouch. 1955)

"It just isn't that interesting."


This is one of the shortest films that I have seen from the 1077, and this will more than likely be my shortest review. Sadly, The Mad Masters is not a very interesting movie. It is an ethnographic "docufiction" and not something that I am particularly interested in. This is kind of like one of the more recent films from the list that I have seen, Buñuel's Land Without Bread. I have not really enjoyed either one. Thank goodness they were under 30 minutes long.

The Mad Masters is a heavily fictionalized documentary about a group of people in Africa who practice a religion known as Hauka. This consists of eating and sacrificing animals and waiting for your body to be possessed by the spirits of British colonial administrators. The camera follows the ceremony as if it was a fly on the wall. The action is pretty straightforward.

On an interesting note, the film was actually pretty controversial when it was released. It was banned in Niger and other British territories for its outright mockery of their high ranking officials. More recently, it has garnered criticism from African students because it shows their people as vile, violent and unintelligent savages. If anything in the film is true - I could see why people of the region would be embarrassed.

That is pretty much as good as The Mad Masters gets. It is not very entertaining or well made. In fact, the camera movement is overly-shaky for a documentary. Looking at the screen is not very pleasing. It is not a great movie.

The Mad Masters: D

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