Madame L’Eau is an improvised feature film with a strong documentary style. As in previous films, Rouch follows his three friends (Damouré, Lam and Tallou) with his camera. And despite the pervading ironic overtone, the principal issue is serious: drought. Damouré, Lam and Tallou are no longer able to endure the drought ravaging their fields in Niger, and set off in search of a solution. Damouré suggests they contact their friend in Holland, the country of water and windmills. How do the Dutch manage to transport water (for free) from one point to another?
The three men decide to visit Holland. Very impressed, but still a little disappointed by the height and size of the mills, they continue their search. Finally they find what they’ve been looking for: a wooden windmill which they can even make themselves! Together with a Dutch engineer and some African carpenters they set out to build this windmill on the banks of the Niger river. Their dream becomes true. The film crew, the engineer and an “assembly kit” travel to Niger. In a combined effort they manage to build the mill in one month and there stands, in full splendor: a windmill; initiated, built and maintained by themselves.

Netherlands/F/NE 1992
Regie: Jean Rouch
127 min, 16mm, Farbe, franz. OmU

2003, Archive, Tribute

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