Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

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Last Updated on July 30, 2021 by bricoleur

Je pense à un monde ou chaque mémoire pourrait créer sa propre légende.

Chris. Marker

Il faudrait raser la Sorbonne, et mettre Marker à la place.

Henri Michaux*

All the world knows me in my book, and my book in me.

Michel de Montaigne
La Jetée wandering in the double past
Following the Ariadne threads of happiness… Wandering in the double past… from La Jetée

About the Site

Everything experienced fades to memory. Everything is like an image in a dream. It is gone and is not seen again.

Śāntideva, The Bodhicaryāvatāra

Chrismarker.org is a randomly-compiled, taxonomically naive and hopefully useful archive of ruminations, bibliographic & filmographic notations, untimely meditations, mnemonic minutiae and other glosses on the cinematic, written, photographic and multimedia work of world-citizen & time-traveler Chris Marker – the “mercurial international man of semiotic mystery.”* (Or, as the endnotes to Abschied vom Kino puts it, Chris Marker is: “Author, activist, filmmaker, photographer, Internaut, critic, media artist, poet, journalist.” We might add: friend to animals). In the end, the working moniker he settled on was simply “bricoleur.”

Biographical

Marker's biography, taking the cue from Montaigne, is in his work. The closest he got to presenting his life is in the highways and byways of the CD-ROM Immemory. Biography is also, throughout his career, willfully obscured by his playful misdirections, his use of multiple pseudonyms, the enormity of his anonymous work (esp. film commentaries and editing for other films), his well-known avoidance of interviews and, in general, aversion for being in front rather than behind the camera. Rather than a Man Without Qualities, he is a Man Without Biography. Still, there have been attempts, vigorously renewed of course since his passing.

Maneki Neko, bringer of good luck… from Sans Soleil

Contributions

We welcome contributions in short article format from the global village that Marker helped to map. We also welcome Chris Marker news, links, memorabilia, aphorisms, quotations, images, and stray insights. Contributions from animals are welcome too, of course, including but not limited to cats, owls, giraffes, emus, and elephants (слоны).

Origins

The predecessor of this site was an old and crumbling edifice from the '90s: silverthreaded presents chris marker, housed at a so-called tilde account in the dial-up days, in and amongst the rubble of a long, convoluted research project dubbed Cinema Paranoia. Upon this shaky base we built, quoting & glossing, writing when inspired, ever fascinated by and admiring always the oeuvre of Chris Marker, le plus célèbre des cinéastes inconnus. 

Roadmap & Recent Activity

Though things here have been quiet of late, plans for additions are in the works. I aim to expand the site in several dimensions: (i) adding image galleries; (ii) working toward a more systematic presentation of Marker's creations in the form of an app (long term); (iii) adding more primary writings by Marker in both French and English; and (iv) reaching out to Chris Marker aficionados, scholars and otaku for more guest articles and translations. I'm working with Sophie Kovel on translations from Marker's Esprit days (nice mention from Criterion too). I was also honored in presenting the publication of chapter 1 of Chris Darke's new book on La Jetée.

M Chat & Guillaume, Chris Marker 1921-2012 :: rue Courat, Paris

The Estate Awaits!

I will document as best I can the current state of his estate, hoping to glean insights into the materials currently being cataloged by the Cinémathèque française, and looking at others' takes on the exhibition (I could not attend, quel dommage). I am working to gather resources on distribution rights for all extant films, in both French and English, as I get periodic requests for such, or rights for images, etc. Note that this site is not affiliated with any distribution company nor Marker's estate. Please use the resources provided before writing to ask about screening possibilities.

Books & Streaming

A more detailed exegesis of new books & anthologies on Marker is also a primary goal before I get buried beyond recovery… Of note: CinémAction 165: Chris Marker, pionnier et innovateur; CHRIS MARKER, the Cinémathèque française exhibition catalog; Studio: Remembering Chris Marker; Revue Esprit Mai 2018: Les Engagements de Chris Marker; Essays on the Art of the Essay Film; The Essay Film: From Montaigne, After Marker; the German translations Kommentare 1 and Kommentare 2; Chris Marker und die Ungewissheit der Bilder… You get the picture. I also look forward to digging deeper into Gavin Keeney's Dossier Chris Marker: The Suffering Image, possibly the most challenging book on Marker to date. Also exciting, Paul Henley has published Beyond Observation: A History of Authorship in Ethnographic Film (Manchester Univ. Press, 2020) that, while not directly on Marker, looks incredibly promising for those of us who have also followed Jean Rouch's long career. I'd also like to mention a new online streaming service, OVID.tv, which has a treasure trove of Marker films—including the entire 13 episodes of The Owl's Legacy, Far From Vietnam, A Grin Without a Cat, The Last Bolshevik, Le Joli mai, Level Five, One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich, Class Struggle, Bestiary, The Embassy, Remembrance of Things to Come, The Sixth Side of the Pentagon, and short docs on Marker as well. Patricio Guzmán is also generously represented, as is Robert Kramer and Jean Rouch.

At the top of my wish list for future publications would be an anthology of Raymond Bellour's many articles on Marker, and of course English translations of Commentaires 1 & 2 and Le fond de l'air est rouge. Thankfully, we now also have (in French only to date) the publication of the dialogs from L'Héritage de la chouette.

Donations

Chrismarker.org, as a solo, not for profit undertaking, has monthly hosting costs, including increased security, associated with its very existence. If you wish to donate, we do have a Give donation capability set up that accepts credit cards now.

Cimitière Montparnasse Chris Marker
Photo © Nadine Boljkovac. Le tombeau de Chris Marker, Cimetière de Montparnasse, July 2012. Many thanks Nadine!

* The L Magazine.

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Thanks for stopping by!
Daniel L. Potter
Twitter: @llull

* “So legendary that its precise reference is lost” says Raymond Bellour on the Michaux quote…

star fairies fond de lair cover dlp
Stary Fairy | Le fonds de l'air est rouge
Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory
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