A Few Gems From Recently Departed Filmmaker Chris Marker
La Jetée (1962): Marker’s most famous film is a post-apocalyptic short drama that takes place in a destroyed Paris after World War III. Considering that this was 1962 and the Cold War was on and imminent threat of nuclear destruction felt very, very real for many people, this would have definitely struck a chord. In addition to resonating with audiences all over the world, La Jetée resonated with other artists and filmmakers, including Panda Bear in his song "Last Night at the Jetty" and most notably Terry Gilliam, who was very inspired by Marker’s film while making 12 Monkeys.
Sans Soleil (1983): "Did you know that there are emus in the Île de France?" Well, thank you Chris, I did now, thanks to the most iconic of his "essay films," a style which would be his legacy. For Sans Soleil, Marker incorporated and juxtaposed images from his beloved Japan, his home country of France and Guinea-Bissau, among others, into a common narrative about the way we live now. Like La Jetée, it is now in the Criterion Collection.
A.K. (1985): Even the best storytellers need someone to tell their stories, and virtuoso filmmaker Akira Kurosawa had Marker tell his. Marker’s affinity for Japanese culture was well-documented, and his portrait of Kurosawa, during the filming of his great epic Ran, is one rooted in reverence, even if the execution isn’t perfect. The film showed at Cannes, and someone put the whole thing on the Internet, if you want to try and watch it. Marker made a number of other great profile films. including 1961’s Fidel Casto portrait Cuba, Sí.
Chats Perchês (2004): One of Marker’s last films, and like A.K., a portrait of a fellow artist. Marker follows Monseuir Chat, a graffiti artist who painted grinning Cheshire cats all over Paris’ streets in the wake of the September 11th attacks, and ends up relaying quite a bit about French politics in the process.