Criterion Collection wrote:
Chris Marker, filmmaker, poet, novelist, photographer, editor, and now videographer and digital multimedia artist, has been challenging moviegoers, philosophers, and himself for years with his complex queries about time, memory, and the rapid advancement of life on this planet. Sans Soleil is his mind-bending free-form travelogue that journeys from Africa to Japan.
Andrea LeVasseur on All Movie Guide wrote:
Titled after a song cycle by Mussorgsky, Sans Soleil is a 1982 nonlinear essay film by elusive documentary filmmaker Chris Marker. It’s a collage of images gathered from Japan, Africa, Iceland, San Francisco, and France — all presented without direct sound. The soundtrack consists of occasional spells of electronic music while an unseen woman’s voice (Alexandra Stewart in English and Florence Delay on French audio) narrates letters written by a possibly fictional traveler in poetic verse. Beginning with the phrase “He wrote me,” each segment explores some philosophical inquiry of matters as broad as modern culture, technology, consciousness, Japanese television, and even the act of filming itself. Some of the first images include children in Iceland, a ferry in Hokkido, a carnival in Guinea-Bissau, girls in Cape Verde, and a shrine to cats in Tokyo. There’s also a creepy JFK robot, petrified animals left by desert drought, and teenagers dancing in a public square. The seemingly miscellaneous footage is made up of archive clips, synthesized video sequences, and some images collected by Marker’s colleagues. It’s randomly assembled, jumping from one continent to another in the same breath. It remains one of the director’s masterpiece accomplishments.