Though relatively unsung in the English-speaking world, Jean Rouch (1917-2004) was a towering figure of ethnographic cinema. Over the course of a fifty-year career, he completed over one hundred films, both documentary and fictional, and exerted an influence far beyond academia. Exhaustively researched yet elegantly written, "The Adventure of the Real" is the first comprehensive analysis of his practical filmmaking methods. Rouch developed these methods while conducting anthropological research in West Africa in the 1940s and '50s. His innovative use of unscripted improvisation by his subjects had a profound impact on the French New Wave, Paul Henley reveals, while his documentary work launched the genre of cinema verite. In addition to tracking Rouch's pioneering career, Henley examines the technical strategies, aesthetic considerations, and ethical positions that contribute to Rouch's cinematographic legacy. Featuring over 150 images, "The Adventure of the Real" is an essential introduction to Rouch's work.