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Chris Marker: La Jetee/Sans Soleil - Preview

La Jetee/Sans Soleil

Preview by Jack Foley

CHRIS Marker, a cinematic essayist and audio-visual poet, was one of the most innovative filmmakers to emerge during the post-war era.

Working primarily in the arena of non-fiction, Marker rejected conventional narrative techniques, instead staking out a deeply political terrain defined by the use of still images, atmospheric soundtracks, and literate commentary.

Born Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve on July 29, 1921, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, the intensely private and enigmatic Marker mounted a career as a writer and critic before creating his first short feature Olympia 52 in 1952.

His first widely acclaimed effort was 1953’s Les Statues Meurent Aussi, filmed with the assistance of frequent collaborator Alain Resnais.

Marker’s most famed film was not a documentary, but a work of science fiction: the 1962 masterpiece La Jetée. A time-travel parable consisting almost completely of still images and voice-over narration, the 30-minute work later served as the inspiration behind Terry Gilliam’s 1995 feature 12 Monkeys.

In 1982, Marker wrote and directed the superb Sans Soleil – a wry and complex global travelogue inspired by a series of letters which has been acclaimed as one of his best works.

During the 1980’s Marker’s work became more and more dominated by developing technology. Always the innovator, he worked increasingly on video, also experimenting with television, computers, and other multimedia outlets.

In 1997, he returned to feature filmmaking with Level Five.

La Jetee

Earth lies ruined in the aftermath of nuclear war. Memory becomes mankind’s only hope for survival. A prisoner is chosen to travel through time because of a haunting childhood memory, involving a woman and a murder.

He first travels through the past, then through the future. He meets the people of the future, who too travel through time… He asks to be sent back to the time of this childhood memory, only there does he finally understand none can escape time…

Sans Soleil

A woman narrates the thoughts of a world travelling cameraman. Through a series of his letters comes an analysis of many places he has visited – Japan, Guinea-Bissau, Iceland, San Francisco and Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

Sans Soleil is a stylish meditation on time and memory expressed in both words and images.

Win La Jetee/Sans Soleil on DVD

To celebrate the release of La Jetee/Sans Soleil on DVD on August 22, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 of 3 copies. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Which modern film did Chris Marker’s La Jetee help to inspire?

Simply send the answer to Chris Marker titles competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email