La Jetee / Sans Soleil DVD
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Directed by Chris Marker
Produced in 1962; 1983
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - European Film
‘Nothing tells memory from ordinary moments. Only afterwards do they claim remembrance on account of the scars’ (La Jetee)
No filmmaker has investigated the workings and function of memory more thoroughly than Chris Marker, and the two films here testify to the intelligence and distinctiveness of his approach. La Jetee (1962) is simply one of the most influential films ever made. And yes, it is less than half an hour long and told almost entirely in stills. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, the film documents the attempts of an underground community of scientists to contact other ages through a loophole in time in order to revitalize their dying society. They use people with particularly strong images from the past for their experiments, forcing them to try and re-enter that moment. The film is admirable for many reasons - its brilliantly evocative use of sound, its editing, the beauty and power of its photography, the concept itself even. And as for communicating the painful, hollowing loneliness of the moment of waking when you realize that the person you have been with was only in a dream and that they are entirely lost to you, it has never been better filmed. Never. Sans Soleil (1982) is a rich and layered meditation on vision and the representation of memory. Taking the form of a travelogue, a cameraman sends letters from destinations around the world to accompany his pictures. He travels to Iceland, Japan, and more ‘forgotten’ places - Guinea-Bissau and the Cape Verde islands in search of images of happiness, moments suspended in time, the banal, and ‘things to make the heart beat faster’. His letters, in which he tries to make connections between the images he films, are read and commented on by an unknown woman. Questions of the distortions of recollection and our re-writings of memory are raised and remembering is seen as the ‘lining’ of forgetting. Sometimes the photographer thinks that the least distortion of actuality is to be found in the most mediated pictures of all - those manipulated by an image synthesizer known as the ‘Zone’. They are nothing more than images and make no claims for themselves regarding reportage, objectivity or truth. It is a film filled with striking images that catch in the mind. Near the end there is a shot of three girls in Iceland, the sun in their hair turning their heads to pure light. It comes from a place of wonder, as if fugitive spirits had been briefly captured on film. Suddenly they are gone and we are left with our loss and our memory.
Graeme Hobbs on 25th June 2003
Author of 300 reviews
Two wonderful films from Chris Marker that have the workings of memory as their starting point - La Jetee (1962) and Sans Soleil (1983).
The inspiration for Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys, La Jetee is simply one of the finest short films ever made, while Sans Soleil is a rich and layered meditation on 'the dreams of the human race', weaving footage from throughout the world into an astonishing imagined dialogue between a cameraman and an unknown woman.
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 childhood memory that haunts him, to which he asks to be sent back...
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.
Publisher: Nouveaux Pictures
Length: 126 mins
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 28th July 2003
Cat No: NPD1016
- 'Chris on Chris' documentary (10mins)
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