A compelling case could be made for any of those landmark films. But a strong argument also could be mustered for an unforgettable minute black-and-white French movie that consists almost entirely of still photographs shot with a Pentax camera. Throughout his long, restless career, Marker was constantly exploring ideas about time and memory, both individual and collective. He was fascinated by the paradoxes and the inexorable grip of time and by the way the real and imagined past shapes human destiny, looping us backward and forward like a film reel. He thought of cinema as an art form fundamentally concerned with time and motion and exploited those properties to brilliant effect.
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Also available as ch. Paul Smith, Cambridge Univ. Press, The realization of the confession comes with the death of the hero himself as he relives a moment of his past, as he meets once again the girl whose image has haunted him.
That syllogism is what leads the living human to meet his death, a death whose image is his secret. But why that hypothesis? The image itself constitutes an unusual organization of storyline: Marker invents a type of narration that literature cannot often produce. Literature here appears only in the voice of the narrator-commentator: it borrows its script from the narrative mode of a Kafka. Beyond its novelistic argument, the film consists in something other than an autobiographical project whose shape it wants to trace.
These intimate recollections, essentially tied to the return of the figure of a childhood love, can only be organized in a science-fictional scenario the role of that obsessive image is also to denaturalize the fiction : such a scenario constitutes the expansion of the field where the subject of memory, of recollection, of relived affects, is put into an experimental situation. He is the milieu, the strictly individual and lonely guinea pig, of an experiment of which he is both the key and the secret.
This experimental subject is trapped—as in a labyrinth—in the drama of memory whose whole experience consists in making something his own in a certain way he dies within himself, by a reconciliation or a coincidence of time and images. That, for those of my generation, is the memory an imperfect memory, but one that induces the greater part of our sensibility , the memory of or the kind of mnemonic damage caused by the war in our childhood: a primal consciousness of an era of planetary destruction which has lodged a soul within us, like a bullet or a piece of shrapnel that hit us and by chance reached a center where it could live on after having done no more than destroy a town or kill someone other than us.
And yet this paradox that is to say, this artifice touches something very profound in us; you see it in Rousseau, in Proust: the frailty of the intimate object, or the frailty of the secret, cleaving the subject the self to this tenuous thing that we usually take to be a sign of our unique individuality and no doubt it is such a sign : our justification and our licence for braving this waning of time that is, the work itself always come by way of an insignificant little ritournelle, a tiny machine that repeats our access to childhood.
The striking thing—or the impeccable thing, perhaps—is that the syllogism which defines this whole theatrical act defers the death of the hero for as long as he can speak, for as long as he can evoke the world of the living, can say his evening prayers: the syllogism of this tragedy is a scenario. Can this film possibly substitute for the writing of a novel?
To whom to attribute the continuous voice accompanying the images? By whom is this adventure told? A witness, the depersonalized essence of the hero? An experimenter? Or someone who has absolute knowledge of time, death, and the paradoxes of memory? He himself is an image, precisely the thing that the novel disperses or can never stabilize. The girl is protected the statues, the museum, her slumber by time.
She is the face of time and, above all, the very content of time its secret, its truth. He, as the subject of time she is his sovereign , becomes the agent of her quiet truth: the machinery of time puts the hero to death by the coincidence of two images. But what remains unexplained is how the past itself can be edited into a form: the form of the film itself; more exactly, how can a fiction of the past be edited into something that can represent the past for someone whose experimental life consists in being affected by a form of time as it reconstitutes the fragments of a disappeared world—fragments that make up the suspended life of this subject who is composed entirely by his suffering of time.
Those events have opened up a whole world of sentiments, rather than actions. Almost the opposite, the story itself, presented in narrative form, partly utilizes that form as a sort of ephemeral theater in which another part—the part that makes this story come alive for me — remains invisible and necessarily deprived of images.
This film, however, is something other than that. In this score, in the choir whispering this stifled Lied, I hear too the heavy dialogue of the devils from the second Faust; the young girl of the romantic stage is revived, the eternal mystery of survival to a mad or dead poet; the young girl of ancient Greece in Hegel, who represents both knowledge and the innocence of philosophy; or the woman whom Kierkegaard imagines to know already what Socrates does not.
Romanticism has translated Dante so that Beatrice stands for the very insistence of death because death has become an amorous vocation, and the limits of the world have thus been redefined—and that same century was discovering negativity. All I see there is this: images of life sliding, being destroyed, and growing dark within the story that they give rise to.
A fidelity: sometimes fidelity to the game where someone sits for the painting. Other highlights included What is this film called Love? Paul Smith on ChrisMarker. Paul Smith. Hanshe The Encounter of M. Pin It on Pinterest.
Subscribe on Apple Podcasts , Spotify , and wherever you get your podcasts! A woman narrates the contemplative writings of a seasoned world traveler, focusing on contemporary Japan. A woman returning home falls asleep and has vivid dreams that may or may not be happening in reality. Through repetitive images and complete mismatching of the objective view of time and space, her dark inner desires play out on-screen. The history of Nazi Germany's death camps of the Final Solution and the hellish world of dehumanization and death contained inside. A French actress filming an anti-war film in Hiroshima has an affair with a married Japanese architect as they share their differing perspectives on war.
On La Jetée by Jean-Louis Schefer
Distributed for Zone Books. Images and script in both French and English from one of the greatest experimental films ever made by a master of the form. It brings a total freshness to the work and a new way to use photos to deal with dramatic events. It provided the basis for the Terry Gilliam film 12 Monkeys. Chris Marker, who is the undisputed master of the film essay, composed this post-apocalyptic story almost entirely of black-and-white still photographs.