The second in our series of genre polls at the SCFZ film forum covered experimental film. As in our other…
"He wrote me..." A woman narrates the thoughts of a world traveler, meditations on time and memory expressed in words and images from places as far-flung as Japan, Guinea-Bissau, Iceland, and San Francisco.
The first image he told me about was of three children on a road in Iceland, in 1965.
On my imaginary shelf of favorites Sans Soleil had always sat slightly out of view, clandestinely lingering in the shadows behind the other cinematic behemoths that had crafted the loftiest statures in my mind. It sat in an indeterminable repose as I time and time again avoided re-watching it, every time hesitating, wondering if this was truly the film I once had thought it to be. Being intimidated by my own inner-circle is just the kind of business I'm in, and baby, business is a-boomin'. Now, after a multitude of revisits, looking back on my imaginary shelf there are still those that…
When it comes to movies these days I really am spoiled by so little want. I mean, it's just so easy to get hold of most things, even if one has to resort to torrent sites like karagarga or other more obscure avenues. Rewatching Sans Soleil reminded me of when I would make almost daily trips to the library in downtown San Francisco and bring home anything on DVD or VHS that looked interesting or that I'd heard about from friends on livejournal or whatever, often browsing a selection of the same old titles, yet anxious to see if perhaps anything new had been returned and not already picked out by another in the constantly ravenous swarm of movie fiends.…
Like any decently-educated cinephile, I was saddened at the passing of filmmaker Chris Marker in 2012. Having only seen La jetee by that time, I grieved based on how insanely original I found that film to be, and it further inspired me to seek out his other work to pay tribute. Well, as all of us cinephiles who vow to watch a canonical filmmaker's filmography can most likely sympathize, things in my life got in the way and that idea was derailed, replaced by other distractions or duties.
It wasn't until I purchased the discounted Criterion Blu-ray containing Marker's two greatest works that my goal was reinstated. I watched La jetee again, loving it even more, and then I moved…
"History throws its empty bottles out the window."
There are few if any avant garde films out there that are as funny and beautiful as this one. This is simply put one of the best film ever made. A fascinating study of memory, life and beauty. The scenes from Iceland were filmed in my hometown, Vestmannaeyjar (Heimaey), and stand here as the image of beauty. Japan is the place of future, the sci fi part of it. Africa is our origin. The world is a timeline, an emotional map and it's on display in this masterpiece.
There is no way I can write a review of this film. Any attempt is futile so these words will have to stand as an invitation to an experience. They in no way reflect the sun. They are in fact Sans Soleil - sunless. The film however is not.
"Who remembers all that? History throws its empty bottles out the window." ~ Narrator
This Chris Marker documentary has been called an "experimental essay-film." It takes the form of a personal travelogue, bringing together images from Japan and Guinea-Bissau, "two extreme poles of survival," along with scenes from Iceland, Cape Verde, Paris and San Francisco. The only discernible thread linking such diverse places is the mind and memory of the writer-director.
An ongoing narration gives meaning to the visual presentation in the form of supposed letters written by a male traveler -- a fictitious cameraman named Sandor Krasna. The letters are read by a female narrator -- Florence Delay in French or Alexandra Stewart in English -- and they address…
#69 — Sight & Sound's 2012 Critics Poll
From my ongoing quest to see all the Sight & Sound films...
Chris Marker's Sans Soleil is a strange and strangely satisfying documentary (of sorts) that focuses much of its attention on the minutiae of life in Japan as described in letters (of unknown provenance) read aloud by a woman with scrupulous diction. (Perhaps the one and only change I'd make in this curiosity of a film is replacing that narrator, as she tends to inflect even the most neutral-seeming ruminations with a smidgeon of haughtiness.)
The literal subjects (Japan and Africa and—to a lesser extent—San Francisco, Iceland, and elsewhere) are ostensible; Marker merely prefers these experiential data as a means of discussing memory…
Pretentious. I try to avoid throwing the "P-word" around, but sometimes I find the term apt and unfortunately this is one of those cases. Sans Soleil comes from legendary experimental director Chris Marker and is a documentary consisting of footage mostly from Japan and Guinea-Bissau, as well as some bits from Cape Verde, Iceland, Paris, and San Francisco. The footage is narrated by a woman who describes the letters she received from the filmmaker. The film is said to be a meditation on human memory, perspective, truth, culture, and history. I can see all of these themes in the film in retrospect, but the actual experience of watching Sans Soleil was extremely frustrating for me.
Marker certainly has an eye…
there's moments of such brilliant editing it's hard to imagine ever cutting something so perfect.
the text gets a little overwhelming at times, drifting in and out of coherence, but it doesn't detract, rather adds to the hazy dreamyness and incoherance of real life
Or maybe it was the other way around?
somehow manages to encapsulate both the beauty and the misery of the human condition
"the new bible will be a eternal magnetic tape of time that will have to re-read itself constantly just to know it existed"
The Quest for Sight and Sound - Watch 16: Ranked 71
Film as a tool of observation and reflection through two distinct lenses - one a sincere acknowledgement of life's course, the other intruded by man's own creation, a digital realm, removing familiarity, empathy, yet reflexive of the former lens by scrutinizing its truth - that acts as a pinnacle exploration of an artistic medium and the species that created it.
What a trip. Sans Soleil is one I'm still wrapping my head around, but the use of editing and cinematography and voiceover in this travelogue is a way at looking at culture and the world.
I'll try to add more to this space at another time, but for now, see this film. This travelogue by Chris Marker about traveling around the world, mostly to East Asia and Africa, and trying to understand who we are through the culture of others.
Marker's seminal film about the world is poetic visually, and orally. It's greatness is somewhat overstated: Sans Soleil most of the time has the monotony of an academic essay, it's not the sporadic meditation on humanity so many have claimed it to be.
"Who said that time heals all wounds? It would be better to say that time heals everything - except wounds. With time, the hurt of separation loses its real limits. With time, the desired body will soon disappear, and if the desiring body has already ceased to exist for the other, then what remains is a wound, disembodied."
All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1187. An easy way of seeing how…
I want you all to vote on what you think are the greatest films of all time!
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