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244 Ratings

The Human Pyramid

La Pyramide humaine

Directed by Jean Rouch
France, Cote d'Ivoire, 1961


The arrival of Nadine, a new student, in the Abidjan Lyceum is the starting point for a discussion about interracial relationships.

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The Human Pyramid Directed by Jean Rouch
Late in the film it becomes clear that these daring new interactions are actually fostered by Rouch’s direct intervention into their personal lives, and as such, The Human Pyramid’s often stilted-feeling scenes are transformed into powerful mirror image reflections of the stark awkwardness of nascent, socially-radical intimacies.
April 07, 2018
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It created a template for how a film could conduct a complex internal dialogue using only the terms of its own fascination with beauty, romance, and young bodies. The difference is that it created it to explore a subject that few of the films that followed in its footsteps were ready to address.
May 09, 2017
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With a keen eye for the human side of landscape (a grounded ship and an abandoned villa are virtual characters) and an avid tenderness for his performers, Rouch brings tremulous drama to a long and sinuous pan shot of young lovers leaving a party for a secluded nook—and they hit their spotlights with Hollywood aplomb. A tag ending, shot later on the Champs-Élysées, winks at “Breathless”—which Rouch strongly influenced.
November 04, 2012
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What are people saying?

  • Marc St-Cyr (Death cinéphilia)'s rating of the film The Human Pyramid

    Holidays Break # 6: Racism came from the miscommunication between each other. There's a few great colonial-post-colonial ethnography works. It's said a lot about the history of cinema... Jean Rouch is as essential than Godard, Bing, Costa, Hsiao-Hsien, Kiarostami and every anthropo-cinéastes.

  • Jacques de Villiers's rating of the film The Human Pyramid

    A kind of postcolonial precursor to Eric Rohmer, this is close to the power of Rouch's better known Chronicle of a Summer. Grappling with race relations, it realises many of his innovative trademarks: a blurring of fiction & reality, close collaboration with his (non-)actors in dramatising their own stories, and striking layering of voice over image. A certain Louis Malle also does great work as cinematographer.

  • I.Camera's rating of the film The Human Pyramid

    Following on from Moi, un Noir, Rouch took his experimental approach to the university classroom, with non-professional actors re-enacting a tale of bi-racial friendship. The French and African students improvise a struggle to surmount their presumptions and racial prejudices, esp. when accusations of miscegenation start to arise. It would be fascinating to find out what Rouch's subjects thought of this metafiction.

  • Urara's rating of the film The Human Pyramid

    At first view I thought of the human pyramid as a bland attempt at philanthropic act and social commentary. But I realized although through bad acting, this is a creation of something completely unique and experimental on view even after 60+ years. Is worth watching! My rating is 3 stars as a movie, but 5+ stars as a project

  • Loz Loory's rating of the film The Human Pyramid

    Marvelous. Am astonished that this film was made, and also that the world is so backwards that making similar films is not mandatory in schools around the world. Of course the elephant in the room is the patriarchy. Both Alain and Nadine flirt, but only she is reprimanded. The woman who played Denise was exceptional. I would vote for her for President of the World; she'd get us all organized. Beautiful ending.

  • thelastronaut's rating of the film The Human Pyramid

    There are some scenes, particularly any scene involving music or dancing, that instantly brought a smile to my face they were so joyful. I'm fine with Rouch again playing with the idea of a "fake" movie but not sure it works as well as it did in "Moi, Un Noir". Still, after all these years, feels very vivid and alive. The church scene in particular was so gorgeous and was like something out of a Kenneth Anger film.

  • ejonline's rating of the film The Human Pyramid

    This was interesting as a document of an ambitious project, but I didn't find it to be completely engaging. In particular, I didn't think the additional fictional intrusion in the final act, which was transparently presented as such, was helpful. It came across as an invention of Rouch rather than the students, so it felt pointless. Compared "Moi, Un Noir" this seemed to me much less collaborative and insightful.

  • Adam GR's rating of the film The Human Pyramid

    Masterpiece? Maybe not. Jean Rouch does not lack for ingenuity, but he's starting to frustrate me in the same way Xavier Dolan cannot stop inserting himself in the story. This film had me (especially the dream wedding with Nadine's veil of hair!) until the director played God's hand and made it a "tragedy." Why? It adds nothing and detracts from the truths the film achieves. Also insinuates France>Africa.

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