The Human Pyramid

The Human Pyramid

At the Lycée Français of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Rouch worked with students there who willingly enacted a story about the arrival of a new white girl, Nadine, and her effect on the interactions of and interracial relationships between the white colonial French and Black African classmates, all non-actors. Fomenting a dramatic situation instead of repeating one, Rouch extended the experiments he had undertaken in Chronicle of a Summer, including having on-camera student participants view rushes of the film midway through the story. The docu-drama shows how working together to make the film changes their attitude towards each other.

"Seminal; this groundbreaking metafiction by the French ethnographic filmmaker Jean Rouch is as much a political experiment as an artistic one. Rouch has a keen eye for the landscape and an avid tenderness for his performers."The New Yorker

"Somewhere between a Richard Linklater-esque hangout movie and a high-pressure debate club that touches on everything from religious justifications for slavery in America to expressions of implicit racism unique to the grammar of French ... 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 A.V. Club

"I want the racists to talk like racists. For a film on robbery, I'd ask someone to steal. But even if it's a fake theft, I'd be an accomplice, even if I'm filming." —Jean Rouch, La Pyramide Humaine


Main credits

Rouch, Jean (film director)
Rouch, Jean (on-screen participant)
Fleytoux, Roger (film producer)
Braunberger, Pierre (presenter)

Other credits

Images, Louis Mialle [and 4 others]; montage, Marie Josèphe Yoyotte [and 3 others]; regie: Pascal Pazart, Suzy Vianes.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

African Studies
Cinema Studies
Cultural Anthropology
Race and Racism


"The Human Pyramid"; Icarus Films; Ivory Coast; Jean Rouch; racism; filmmaking;

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