Director Chris Marker begins by recounting his childhood dream of visiting the city of Peking – a city he was once only able to admire in books. The viewer is taken on a journey through this city, as if experiencing it from the mind and through the eyes of Marker. His thoughts and observations about the traditions, history, and banalities of everyday life in Peking are woven together in elegant fashion.
Dimanche á Pekin was shot over several weeks but is structured to mimic the itinerary of a single day (Sunday) as if scribbled in a diary; rough notes and impressions to include in a letter home on another day. The “day” is marked by blocks of time – Dawn, 10am, Midday, etc. Marker describes a single day in the city to make clear that the day before or after it may result in a different impression, as would a description made on the same day by another filmmaker (or historian, novelist or photographer for that matter). Jan-Christopher Horak’s discussion of Marker’s photography and documentary work is relevant and succinct here:
Marker is emphatically stating that his subjectivity is dependant on his position within space and time. The writer and filmmaker exist only for a moment in the act of writing in Paris, while the cameraman lives briefly in Japan or China or Siberia in 1955 or 1965 or 1979.
This technique aligns with the ideas Marker has continued to play with throughout his creative life – that is, the transient nature of historical truth and its unavoidable entanglement with personal memories and cultural forms.In this context, Dimanche á Pekin can be read as a humble contribution to the multitude of voices that try to describe a city that, to this day, is overrun with cultural stereotypes, mysticism, and mythologies, communist and anti-communist propaganda.
745MB | 19mn 18s | 992×720 | mkv