Chris Marker

Chris Marker & Pierre Lhomme – Le joli mai AKA The Lovely Month of May (1963) (HD)

Filmed just after the March ceasefire between France and Algeria, LE JOLI MAI documents Paris during a turning point in French history: the first time since 1939 that France was not involved in any war.

Part I, “A Prayer from the Eiffel Tower,” documents personal attitudes and feelings around Paris. A salesman feels free only when he is driving his car, and then only if there is not too much traffic. A working-class mother of eight has just gotten the larger apartment that she had been wanting for years. The space capsule of American astronaut John Glenn is examined by a group of admiring children. Two investors talk about their careers and adventures. A couple in love since their teens discuss the possibility of eternal happiness. At a middle class wedding banquet, the guests are raucous while the bride is quiet, dignified and reserved. Read More »

Chris Marker – Lettre de Sibérie (1957)

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Chris Marker’s ethnographic essay-documentary on Siberia, made in 1957, remains fresh and relevant today. Combining fantasy animation (of woolly mammoths and mammoth buildings) and documentary photography shot by Sacha Vierny, Marker displays above all his amazement at the diversity of Siberia, at once almost pre-historic and post-revolutionary. On the film’s revival at the 1982 New York Film Festival, Village Voice critic Carrie Rickey called it “compassionately detached, playful and eclectic…. What still thrills about Letter from Siberia 25 years after it was made is Marker’s sympathetic ethnography, so much against the grain of the partisan American documentaries of the ’50s where the omniscient voice told you how to read each image.” In one hilarious segment, Marker does include that voice – repeating a scene with a Capitalist-propaganda voice-over and then with a Soviet one. Read More »

Chris Marker – ¡Cuba Sí! (1961)

Documentarists tend to be an eccentric breed. They need to be, since none of the main film festivals allow their films into competition (an incomprehensible decision), and to get a documentary into a cinema these days is a fraught process. But there is no more highly personal yet elusive film-maker than Chris Marker. His importance lies not in how many audiences have been affected by his films, but in how many of his fellow film-makers regard him as something of a genius. Read More »

Chris Marker – Dimanche à Pekin AKA Sunday in Peking [ENGLISH] (1956)

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. Read More »

Chris Marker – La solitude du chanteur de fond AKA The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Singer (1974)

In 1974, Marker made La solitude du chanteur de fond, which follows Yves Montand as he
prepares a benefit concert for Chilean refugees. That Montand had not performed live in many
years made his participation in this concert all the more significant. The portrait of Montand
is intercut with footage from films in which he starred, including Costa Gavras’s Z (1969) and
L’Aveu (1970), both filmed in Chile with the support of Allende. Montand reflects on the role
of politics in culture and on the nature of political films, themes of considerable interest
to Marker. In addition, the film includes footage smuggled out of Chile that tracks the final
days of the democratically elected government of Allende before the coup of September 11, 1973.
Chris Marker, Nora M. Alter, 2006 Read More »

Chris Marker – L’ambassade AKA The Embassy (1973)

An unexpected response to Pinochet’s 1973 coup d’etat in Chile. A Super-8 film apparently found in an embassy -as it’s written in the original title-, where political activists had taken refuge after a military coup d’état. But the events -and their setting- are not what they first appear to be. Read More »

Chris Marker – Description d’un combat AKA Description of a Struggle (1960)

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Winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, Marker’s documentary film, Description d’un combat/Description of a Struggle, examines the condition and circumstances of the young state of Israel and its citizens. The film was made at the time when the Israeli state was 12 years old, and borrows its title from Kafka’s short story. It explores the historical, social, cultural and ethical contexts at the heart of Israel’s existence, and the impact of the tragic and not so distant past on the collective psyche of the nation. Read More »