Sans soleil [1983]

On the surface, this remarkable 1982 filmed essay by the legendary Chris Marker--the French filmmaking pioneer whose extraordinary works about the properties of memory (including the 1962 La Jetée, remade by Terry Gilliam as 12 Monkeys) comprise a chapter of French New Wave history--appears to be a kind of travelogue. Using narration, documentary footage, photographs, and various sorts of mental meanderings, Marker constructs a cinematic parallel to the inherent adventures in journeying through different parts of the world. With great, self-effacing wit, Marker invokes that sense of broadened wisdom and vision that accompanies travel, as well as the delicate problem of trying to communicate the scale of that wisdom and vision to others. The delightful movie takes us to many fascinating sights in Tokyo, but what really develops is a dialogue with the audience about the nature of a filmmaker's pact with them, as well as the insecurity of trying to live up to that promise. A wonderful, clear-eyed experience, one that makes you wonder why Marker continues to be tagged with the obfuscating tag of "experimentalist." --Tom Keogh

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