The Keyser Söze Effect relies all on this paradox: the delight of being deceived, the magic of a manipulation. The pleasure found right there, in that revelation: the rules of the game have all along been yours truly, yours only, you’ve played, you’ve lost. Hit the repeat button. Play it again Sam. And you probably have. I know I have. My collector VHS even breaking down on me: dooming to addiction those very last minutes of the epic finale of Bryan Singer’ 1995 ”The Usual Suspects”. The how to leave it all to your viewer. The want-more, because you gave me less (or so it seems). The want-a-Keyser-Söze-effect-for-ethnographic-movies. Continue reading
Weeks of proposals with no end, living with anthropology day and night, dreaming and nightmaring of research… The grants season… I had it, enough already. A break. Needless to say I went to my pile of DVDs to find refuge. And out of nowhere it seemed, picked up Woody Allen’s 1983 ”Zelig”. I had seen it as a teenager, in a moldy subterranean Parisian cinema re-re-re-screening ”classics”. I had no recollection whatsoever of the movie. Barely that – as usual – there were about 3-4 viewers in the theater, that Woody was his usual self, and that it had the flavor of a documentary of the 30’s. And here I am: years later, just as I am looking forward to get as far as possible from anthropology, I certainly didn’t remember the potential of ‘’Zelig’’ to reflect on just exactly that. (Visual) Anthropology goes to the movies, first take!
I guess that may come with the job description… As an ethnographer, I have to confess an absolute adoration for ethnographic movies. I would choose a Jean Rouch film over any Oscared documentary, anytime. I love that those films have – just like Cinema Vérité – this ‘’fly on the wall’’ approach. I love that they take the yellow brick road without being too sure of where it leads, and that the final destination aimed for is ‘’let’s-just-observe-and-deliver-the-thing-completely-raw-to-the-viewers’’.