This is what happens when your car breaks down on a Sunday morning and you have nothing else to do…
"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…
to put any more words to this almost seems a little offensive.
that and i don't have any yet anyway
It happened with me before, of course, but I'm pretty sure that this film, from those I've seen, is the one where i'm losing the most in translation. I'm saying this, not because the subtitles were bad, but because if I'm reading them I'm losing a couple of frames, which in this particular case I feel particularly sad: I couldn't absorb all of them.
I feel like I must see it two more times: one without sound or subtitles, and another in which I'm only reading and listening.
Almost exhausting, to be honest, but that's only because it takes its rambling nature and turns it into an immeasurable asset. I am somewhat frustrated that the film doesn't really feel like a spontaneous thought process, since its procession of fragmentary connections has been so deliberately plotted out. To say that the observations come from letters helps somewhat, but only adds yet another layer between the experiences recounted and our understanding of them. I am sure that multiple viewings of a film this dense can only enhance one's appreciation of it, and can't deny that the elusive, original construction that it employs makes me grit my teeth as I assign something so definitive as a rating to it, but there were passages here that mostly made me long for other, more gripping passages. Beats the pants off of Lost In Translation as a response to a foreign land, in any case...
"At least he could remember the dark."
marker traveled so far, saw so many things, only to discover that life's greatest treasures are the small moments. a masterpiece. one of the best things I've ever seen.
I'm at a a loss for words. Firstly, Chris Marker is perhaps one of the most skilled film editors there have ever been; the way he specifically creates transitions from shot to shot is exceptionally lyrical and mesmerizing. And then there's his camera. As the film itself makes clear, not all of that which is shown comes from Marker himself. But the film that he personally shoots (bizarrely crediting himself as "Sandor Krasna," perhaps to anonymize the footage, to make it more universal) captures the human face, and specifically the eyes, like no other. Marker's work is brimming with humanity, which is especially interesting considered how intentionally disorienting and unnatural the score and sound mixing often is. The score varies…
The following is a recommendation and short analysis I wrote on the film for my blog.
I’ve previously talked about cinema as a modern type of art form that is capable of preserving histories. Chris Marker’s documentary, Sans Soleil (1983), is similar in this regard of presenting history but differs in that Marker isn’t interested in preserving history so much as he in presenting what I call—since there is no name for it, as far as I know—lost histories. To explain what exactly a lost history is, I’ll first give background on what Sans Soliel is about because context is needed.
In Sans Soleil, Marker travels Japan and Africa and records quotidian life while a voice-over narrator voices Marker’s own…
I love this film. I never tire of this film. I try to watch it once a year on Chris Marker's birth (and death) day.
This is just a nearly indescribable work of genius. Every time I revisit it, it's like spending time with an old friend. You hear and experience all of the familiar sounds and images and listen to the narrator (in this case, the English version's Alexandra Stewart) speaking familiar lines in her warm voice, Chris Marker's thoughts and personality coming through her.
And yet, I noticed details and heard lines in this viewing that I never noticed before, and I have seen the film somewhere around 10 times by now. But that is the genius of…
I'd be lying if I said I understood Sans Soleil. In fact, it may be beyond understanding, but herein lies its beauty. After one viewing, I'm not sure I can put into words what I even watched. All I know was that it was something special.
Marker seems to have documented life itself -- happiness, despair, energy, time, space, fleeting moments, ingrained culture consciousness, history, animate and inanimate beauty. It is a documentary of human life, and if humanity has yet to be understood, then it makes sense for Sans Soleil to be something beyond understanding. By the end, I've forgotten most of what was narrated, and I'm left with a handful of mysterious images. Just as time moves onward…
[Originally written on my blog.]
Succeeded in getting more out of this the second time, though I'm down with Vincent Canby to some extent when he suggests that Marker has merely fashioned a flimsy clothesline upon which to string the edited highlights of years of vacation footage. (Simile mine.) Knowing that the voiceover text is in fact Marker filtered through fictional intermediaries made me note its similarity to Varda's eclectic essays, though I still prefer a bit more focus than we get here; if there's a path connecting "How to film the ladies of Bissau?" (with its haunting single-frame acknowledgment of the camera) to, say, the Vertigo tour, I'm afraid it escaped me. No, the fact that he's a tourist shooting film in both instances does not suffice.
All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1177. An easy way of seeing how…
Movies that are slightly off.