Chris Marker has passed way at the age of 91, after over six decades of film-making. He will be remembered for his unique experimental films whose influence on the medium is still felt to this day.
Chris Marker's films are as varied as they are distinctive. Some are factual, others fictional, most resist either label, necessitating the creation of a new term: the essay film – a hybrid of documentary film and personal reflection. In his long career, Marker never stopped experimenting with style and form, leaving a legacy of idiosyncratic films which are all unique. Here is a selection of some of the best known:
Sans Soleil (1983) is a mesmerising montage of footage from Japan, Iceland and San Francisco, which traces the fictional camera-woman's journey through her memories of her travels. Her narration provides the link between the striking images, whose relation is sometimes unclear, like fragments of memories in her stream of consciousness. It is a personal meditation on the nature of memory, and our relationship with the past.
La Jetée (1962) presents a dystopian view of a future in which time travel provides a link between past, present and future.Composed entirely of still black and white photographs (apart from one short excerpt of film footage) the narrative is propelled forward by the skilful montage and a chilling musical score. It has been hugely influential on the development of the science-fiction genre. Notably, Terry Gilliam's Twelve Monkeys draws heavily on Marker's film.
Le joli mai (1963) chronicles life in Paris through a series of interviews with normal citizens, in an ambitious attempt to document the national psyche as the Algerian War drew to a close. It has been credited as an early example of cinéma vérité, although Marker tellingly rejected this label, preferring 'ciné, ma vérité', revealing the key role of his own subjectivity in the film, as in all his work.
Loin de Vietnam (1967) - Many of Marker's films have a political dimension. This vehement denunciation of America's actions in Vietnam was a co-operative project with Agnès Varda, Joris Ivens, William Klein, Claude Lelouch, Jean-Luc Godard and Alain Resnais. Marker was the film's editor, and his mark is clear is the melding of documentary and fiction which makes Loin de Vietnam's plea for peace so unique and poignant.