Here is to Chris Marker, another giant of French New Wave, who left us on the day of his birthday 😦
Here is to my first encounter with his cinema, to La Jetee (1962), “the story of a man who is marked by an image from his childhood”, that of the face of a Woman, rather, the split second of emotion in the face of a woman, La Jetee, among the front runners of being the first film of the French New Wave.
La Jetee can be called the little sister of Hitchcock’s Vertigo, among the fewest films to captures the spirit of Vertigo, that of a man’s desire to create a woman in his own vision, to go back and recreate the memory of a past. What is human memory? That is what La Jetee asks. Marker was obsessed with Vertigo, as his short essay on the film show, more of a love letter to the film than an essay.
Marker’s lyrical tribute to Tarkovsky, Une journée d’Andrei Arsenevitch (1999), is among the most lyrical and intelligent portrait of any filmmaker, a nostalgic tribute to a man on his last dying days become a meditation on life and death, a meditation in the cinema of Tarkovsky.
Then there is his long magical essay on the history of the Soviet Union, The Last Bolshevik (1992): Nostalgic, lyrical, poetic, raw and cynical, only a few word to describe Marker’s masterful essays on the giant of the early Soviet cinema, composed as a letter to Alexandre Medvedkine, he reflect on Eisenstein, Vertov, Pudovkin, Kuleshov and Alexander Dovzhenko, the history of the Soviet Union in span of two hour of tour de force. A few years later, he would take a personal journey back into the history of France in Remembrance of Things to Come (2003).
More than a filmmaker, Marker was a film essayist, his cinema conceit of exploring in little sentences of images; be it Kurosawa in AK (1985), the ever evolving nature of human memory in the technical age as in Sans Soleil (1983), in A Grin Without a Cat (1977), it is global political that take the center stage, it is his most pessimistic work and one that still resonate with its lesson on the many Revolutions that once made the promises, never to be kept. All lead to nihilism.
Chris Marker was everything; a poet, a writer, a photographer, a film director, multimedia artist, a designer, and film essayist. He was a true Artist.
So, here is to Chris Marker, and some of his portraits…. Let the Image Speak: