3,5 By choosing “not to speak about but to speak nearby”, Trinh attempts, from a non-binary position, to decolonize the Western, white gaze and its objectification of indigenous cultures as “exotic Other”, at the same time questioning the camera's capacity to capture the reality of ethnographic space (without transforming it).
One of the serious errors of most documentaries is pretending that the look that originates it is objective and revealing of a reality, without realizing that the reality is the camera itself and that is by it and through it that the world is seeing. That obstacle is not presented in this film, whose sound is absolutely extraordinary, reminiscent of what Carasco and Régis Hébraud made in Mexico with the Tarahumaras.
In docu-art such as Reassemblage, we might expect the author's voice-over lecture (and it is a finger-wag) to proceed from the targeted and filmed village women onto Trinh T. Minh-ha's considered findings. Instead the film is constrained by a stylistic signature including Barthes-like musings so that the Senegalese themselves become merely a form of poster art for this faux-ethnographic critique on process.
Along with all its other merits ... this film highlights, exposes, critiques and teaches us all the true nature of sound in cinema. Its power, it's manipulative tendencies, its weakness and above all it's importance. I Agree with CINEMA1968's comment that anyone who makes documentaries should watch this, but I would push it further and say that anyone who makes any kind of film should watch this.