Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sans Soleil

Chris Marker, the French film director, has died aged 91. There is a lovely obituary in the Guardian where I learned that when asked to provide a photo of himself, he often sent a picture of a cat because it was his favourite animal. I might start doing that but with elephants.

Most famous as the director of La Jetée, a sort of post apocalyptic, black and white, 'photo' story, I much preferred the accompanying Sans Soleil (1983) and it's one of my favourite films.

Sans Soleil is what is apparently known as a 'non-linear film essay' (stay with me here) and it is the perfect thing to watch late at night with all the lights off as it is a hypnotic, emotional, contemplative and very absorbing film.

Here is the opening:


The film consists of travel footage, mostly of Guinea-Bissau in West Africa and Toyko in Japan, with a female narrator reading letters sent back from these places by an unknown traveller. It shows reality in all its grimness as a sad and graphic scene of the death of a hunted giraffe makes clear. The many sequences of people across the world living their daily lives somehow make the banality of life so beautiful and timeless, it's almost unbearable to watch.

There is some beautiful music also, I love the sounds in this clip:


It's on YouTube but in French, which isn't much use if you are as bad as languages as I am but it's definitely worth renting and watching in homage to Chris Marker. RIP cat lover.

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