An anthropologist and a sociologist explore the possibilities if documentary film. Their experiments try to discover whether or not human emotions can be as real on film as in real life.
The question of whether one can act naturally before a camera had never before been explored in such depth than Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin set out to do in the 1960s in Paris and Saint-Tropez. The sociologist and the anthropologist endeavor to find out and set out to make the first movie in cinema verite.
Rouch helped to create African cinema. Among the first to use handheld synced sound. Thought the presence of a camera inspired people to express themselves more fully. America: Direct Cinema is the American version of cinema verite.
‘I mostly work through the day.’ What do people to all day? They go through the streets asking whether people are happy. Everybody says they spend their life working.
Then we see people doing small jobs at the workplace. ‘The jobs have become so divided and deconstructed that you cannot take ownership.’ You become a small ant in the colony. You lose yourself. Everybody feels the same way. Search for fulfillment and purpose.
Woman: Leaving behind fantasy worlds. Everything becomes ordinary. Most people are bored. French existentialist ideas.
A black African man brings another viewpoint and teaches them the joy of life. When asking questions from people in Saint-Tropez they don’t understand their negativistic viewpoints.
After the film the sociologist and the anthropologist invite the ‘actors’ to see the films and comment. Controversy – people disagree on whether someone is real or acting.