Filmmaker/anthropologist Rouch and sociologist Morin spent one summer in France asking friends and strangers a simple question: “Are you happy?” The result is a cinematic, ethnographic experiment, delving into political, personal and social issues that reveal the human condition in that time and place. When subjects are asked to view the very film they’re in, “Chronicle” becomes a meta-examination of truth, performance, and the impact of an intrusive camera.
Why we love it
This pioneering work was credited with popularizing the “cinema-verite” movement, yet at the same time, it illuminates the obstacles inherent in putting “truth” on camera. The filmmakers’ honest intention to portray life as it is becomes blurred by the camera’s presence. Nevertheless, it’s a fascinating view of French life: students, workers, artists, African immigrants, Holocaust survivors, and a St. Tropez starlet all extemporize on happiness, racism, and Colonial wars. The astounding ending casts the whole film in a new light as we’re forced to question the “truth” of what happened on-camera. “Chronicle” is aptly named, as it indeed chronicles a fascinating slice of Parisian life.