Accepted paper:

A tripod and a strange sound

Authors:

Christian Suhr (Aarhus University)

Paper short abstract:

I this paper I discuss the appearance of a tripod and a strange sound in the footage that was used for the opening scene of the film "Descending with Angels" (Suhr 2013) in which a jinn is being exorcised from an Iraqi man.

Paper long abstract:

Just before the exorcism the possessed man's wife, who is a trained wedding photographer, set up her large Manfrotto tripod for me. She placed it just beside her husband's head, to the right of their large television set. I thanked her for providing this tripod, but it annoyed me. I wanted to be able to move, to be free to make close-ups and full shots, to get into the action, to get the feel of the situation. While I was occupied with cinematic drama, the woman wanted a stable, birds-eye, tripod shot of the entire exorcism from beginning to end. The particular exposure that she wanted of the jinn within her husband was not simply a matter of aesthetic preference, but was a part of her ongoing attempts to fight and contain the jinn. This emerging insight came to me thanks to the persistant appearance of her tripod in my footage, which I first regarded simply as matter out of place and attempted not to film. In this paper I discuss how the camera and the tripod exposed the limits of my understanding and opened my analysis to a better appreciation of what it means to live with madness. I addition I discuss the appearance of a strange sound immediately after the exorcism.

panel P075
Grace: unexpected moments in ethnographic films