Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sans Soleil (1983)

Chris Marker's travelogue has haunted me since I picked it up on DVD a couple of weeks ago. Its haunted me to the point that I've pretty much stopped watching any other film on DVD and I've just watched this over and over again. I have no idea why, it just has been the film I turn to when nothing else grabs my fancy.

The film is nominally a travelogue. It is Chris Markers footage from primarily Japan and Africa with the letters of photo journalist read by a woman. The trouble is that the footage and the letters turn the film into something else other than a straight forward documentary on what you are seeing and instead it changes into something else. I mean how else to explain the left turns into Hitchcock's Vertigo and several sequences from Iceland and the weird electronic imagery?

Its a film that zips and dips and scoots across your brain in different patterns every time you see it. Its a film that makes odd connections in your brain with each viewing as some things you think were important the last time cease to be and things you didn't catch before now come to the front.

What does it all mean? What is the purpose? You're guess is as good as mine. I've seen this film probably eight times in a very short time but each time its like seeing it for the first time.

I am at a loss to explain any of it.

The film is ultimately a head trip. Sure you can take it on the surface as a travelogue, but on the other hand the film becomes different territory the second time or third time or eighth time through. What does it all mean? That will depend on where you are when you see it this time through.

The ever changing nature of the film is the reason that this is slowly becoming one of my favorite films, I mean I get to visit an old friend and get to learn something new each time I visit.

If you like to have your brain massaged this is a film you really should see...repeatedly.

On DVD in the US from Criterion where its paired with La Jetee, Marker's movie made with stills (which was the source of Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys)

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