Cricket and the Trobriand Way

Produced and Directed by Jerry W. Leach who also wrote "Structure and Message in Trobriand Cricket" IN Anthropological Filmmaking ed. by Jack Rolllwagon (1988).

What is the impact of the voice-over narration in this film?

Lauren says:

I felt the voice over narration in Cricket and the Trobriand Way was much better than the slides in the movie on the Yanamamo. The vioce over narration is much easier to follow than the slides. The narraion is something that you can listen and it explains what is happening as it is happening. In the Yanamamo movie you had to think back while watching the movie to remember what was shown and said in the slides. I feel that the vioce over narration is much more effective for understanding the movie.

Bill responds:

Granted, the voice-over is an instructive and familiar technique. However, it is also a very dangerous technique insofar as it allows the filmmaker to pretend that he or she has a firm grasp on all the realities being shown. The voice-over, in other words, almost always comes off as authoritative. It interprets the lives of people in ways that might elude them, but inevitably the voice comes off as more credible than anything the people themselves might say - after all, they would be speaking their piece in a language that you and I don't understand. For these reason, Bill Nichols in his book Representing Reality calls this documentary technique "the voice of God". It booms out from the screen, usually in deep, sonorous and altogether trustworthy tones, bending our intepretations in precisely the way that the filmmaker wishes.

Comment on the different impacts made by the voice-over technique and film-initial still shots with commentary. Kevin says:

In regards to the differences between the movies of the feast with the Yanamamo and the style of the movie of the cricket and the Trobrian Islanders. The style of narration in the Trobrian movie was easy to see, because to better help those not familiar with the traditions and game of cricket (especially Americans) better understand and show how really alike we really are in our activities. The narrator played the roll of a baseball sports caster, while showing the traditional ways of the Trobrian Islanders. This technique I think helped to make the outsider understand and feel a little more comfortable, with their own familiarity of their own views on things. So again we basicly see as with the still frames from the feast that it provides a good indication of what to expect and inables us to ponder upon it awhile, before actually seeing it.

Discuss the differences in the filmmakers' portrayals of Yanomamo and Trobriand people. Rick says:

The differences in the filmmakers' portrayal of the Yanomano and the Trobriand people can be seen at many different views. The Filmmaker of the Yanomano decribe them as Fierce and awkward. They narrate and show the Yanomano as people who fight and defend their homeland as in "Cricket and the Trobriand Way," the filmmakers show them as fighting another tribe, but through sensible means, a game of cricket, where when the game is over, nobody get seriously hurt. The Trobriands are portrayed as people who fight like the Yanomano but from the way the filmmakers portrayed them, the Trombriand are seen as more mature , instead of fighting, they play cricket.

Bill responds:

I agree with your observation, Rick, but I can also see a danger lurking here. While the two films do indeed present these two groups in different lights, one aggressive and the other quite sensible, I wonder if a considerable amount of this portrayal is not due to the filmmaker's choices rather than to the peoples' lifeways. Timothy Asch, in making The Feast, aimed to show the aggressiveness of the Yanomamo, while Leach intended just the opposite in creating Cricket in the Trobriand Way. He aimed to demonstrate the Trobriand cleverness and rationality rather than their aggressiveness which is in fact not far below the surface of their activities.

Comment on the footage that shows a Trobriander imitating an Anglo looking over the cricket match with binoculars.