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Sans Soleil (1983)

Original Title : Sans soleil
Director : Chris Marker
Writer : Chris Marker
Genre : Documentary
Country : France
Language : French
Music : Michel Krasna
Photography : Chris Marker
IMDB ID : 0084628
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poster for "Sans Soleil" by Chris Marker (1983)
Sans Soleil (1983) - Chris Marker
 

Starring

Florence Delay Narrator (French version
Arielle Dombasle Herself
Riyoko Ikeda Narrator (Japanese version
Charlotte Kerr Narrator (German version
Alexandra Stewart Narrator (English version
 

Plot

"He wrote me...." A woman narrates the thoughts of a world traveler, meditations on time and memory expressed in words and images from places as far-flung as Japan, Guinea-Bissau, Iceland, and San Francisco.
 

Comments

"Sans Soleil" is a truly visionary film Now THIS is a remarkable film. When watching "Sans Soleil" it's hard not to contemplate what can truly be created in the film medium and what a shame it is that so much of that territory remains unexplored. The film begins with a woman saying "He wrote me. . ." and she continues to narrate over a series of images, mostly of Africa and Japan, describing what a traveling friend of hers saw, felt, and thought during his journeys. We are never informed who the narrator is, nor who the "he" she keeps referring to is, either. Likely it is Chris Marker, the man who made the film, but it really isn't relevant. The traveller is an intellectual who makes observations about what he sees through his camera lens. "Sans Soleil" is a film diary of sorts. What keeps it from being merely a strained intellectual exercise, though, is that aside from his intellect the traveller holds an almost child-like fascination with all that goes on around him and a desire to fathom a bit of the essence of it all. Marker seems to be trying to answer the eternal question, "What is the meaning of life?" by saying that the meaning varies depending on who and where you are. In Japan they have a a shrine to cats and a ceremony dedicated entirely to broken dolls, at the end of which the dolls are ritually burned. In an African desert several dried up water holes each contain the parched skeletons of water buffalo and the women make it a point to avoid the gaze of the camera, even though they know it's there. Inlooking at the poverty of Africa and the speed and mechanisms of Tokyo, the film examines where technology has taken us and asks what roads lay ahead. It is a complex, fascinating and wholly unique experience and proof that Marker was a visionary ahead of his time. Hopefully, one day filmmakers will realize this and attempt something new - not to copy Marker but to copy his example. For anyone sick of Hollywood and all its old bores, who have a desire to see and be inspired by a film of limitless possibilities - one of the greatest films ever made - you should see "Sans Soleil."