Category Archives: Amitié

Chris + Andrei

file-nov-06-5-28-06-pm

Chris Marker at the funeral of Andrei Arsenevich Tarkovsky. Les deux maîtres. It is au revoir not adieu, one may only hope. If rockstars can reunite in heaven, why not filmmakers? Imagine a film that combines the already fathomless treasures of La Jetée and Stalker

Chris Marker: (Le livre impossible) by Maroussia Vossen

Daughter Owl Chris MarkerOut of the blue, we learned of a new and quite intimate book on Chris Marker (‘un centre mouvant’), written by his adopted daughter Maroussia Vossen.

Marker’s life went into his work, and his personal life remained and remains a mystery to a great many of his fans. This new book, which can be found at Amazon.fr currently, promises to be a welcome respite from scholarly publications, and an insight into the oft-guarded personal side of the auteur. That Marker was loyal to his intimates has been clear, with testimonies coming since his death from many sides, including Pierre Lhomme and Patricio Guzman.

His friends were so numerous, yet each relationship, as attested to by Maroussia, was set in a kind of sacred space – just the opposite of social space with its flattening of relationships into connections, friends, followers… There is in this publication an aura of glimpsing into the center of the storm of a wildly productive life, at the most intimate and non-public relationship perhaps of all.

It is a welcome arrival. As we await its physical arrival from amazon.fr, we can at least ruminate and quote some preliminary texts that are posted on the publisher’s site, le-tripode.net. What was impossible during Marker’s life comes to life here, the impossible book somehow made possible.

Chris Marker (Le livre impossible)

Maroussia Vossen

« Ce texte n’est ni un roman, ni un essai ; encore moins une biographie. C’est le récit fragmentaire de mon lien à Chris Marker, de ma naissance à sa mort. »

L’un est un cinéaste mythique, l’autre sa fille d’adoption. L’un a fait de sa vie un mystère, l’autre en a été le témoin.

Avec justesse et humilité, Maroussia Vossen fait le récit sobre d’une filiation peu banale et révèle le portrait d’un artiste hors du commun, qui s’évertua jusqu’à sa mort à demeurer une énigme.

Artiste et écrivain, Chris Marker est notamment l’auteur d’un film culte : La Jetée.

L’Auteur

Née en 1955. Danse, chorégraphie, enseigne, aime les chats.Le Tripode, Chris Marker (Le livre impossible)

Maroussia Vossen, Chris Marker Le livre impossible

Préambule

Ce texte n’est ni un roman ni un essai; encore moins une biographie.

C’est le récit fragmentaire de mon lien à Chris Marker, de ma naissance à sa mort.

Je n’évoquerai pas le cinéaste, laissant ce travail à ses commentateurs. Je ne peux que restituer quelques instants partagés avec lui, à mesure qu’ils me reviennent en mémoire : plus de cinquante ans de souvenirs.

À peine sortie de l’enfance, je me suis rendu compte qu’il cloisonnait ses relations. Cela lui permettait d’avoir un échange privilégié, un rapport singulier avec l’autre, de construire un cercle dont il serait le centre, mais un centre mouvant. Ainsi, chacun peu aujourd’hui parler de ‘son’ Chris.

Mon point de vue (ou de vie) est fait de plusieurs regards. Celui d’une enfant qui cherche un père ; celui d’une adolescente à la fois rebelle et impressionnée par cet homme qui avait l’allure d’un grand fauve ; celui enfin d’une femme adulte, engagée dans sa propre voie artistique. Ce dernier regard est probablement le plus critique. Mais, quoi qu’il en soit, notre relation ne s’est jamais départé d’une forme de reconnaissance réciproque. On peut dire que notre lien était là et au-delà des mots, comme il était hors de toutes règles conventionnelles.

Chris Marker était un personnage complexe, ses multiples noms d’emprunt sont autant de preuves de son exceptionnelle capacité d’adaptation ; il m’a toujours été difficile d’en cerner les contours. Paradoxal, contradictoire, imprévisible… Ce ne sont que des mots. Immanquablement, il échappait à quiconque voulait l’enfermer dans une définition.

Maroussia Vossen, Chris Marker (Le livre impossible)

Extract published by Le Tripode on Issuu

Full-screen reading enabled

Letter to Alain Cuny by Chris Marker – Exhilaration

Alain Cuny, various portraits, Google images

Here is the English translation of the recently unearthed ‘Lettre à Alain’, originally published in Libération to highlight the 1991 debut of the film L’Annonce faite à Marie, under the title “Chris Marker: ‘Something of a Miracle’, with the sub-title ‘In 1991, for the release of the first projections of L’Annonce faite à Marie [The Announcement Made to Marie], Chris Marker wrote to the ‘young’ filmmaker.’

I take this moment and this space to offer my deep thanks and ongoing gratitude to Dorna Khazeni, who translated this letter for the site’s (majority) English readers. Thanks Dorna! Dorna is also the translator of Marker’s short story Phenomenon (n.), along with a handful of other materials, including the long post on bringing Dialector, Marker’s human-computer interaction machine, to KansasFest. She is one of the reasons I continue to explore Marker, as we share this dedication to his being and his work. What we admire and handle with care is multiple and does not demand defining; it does, however, certainly come across here in Marker’s revelatory moment of heightened awareness, the expressed transformative power of cinema, and his affirmation of friendship.

§

Dear Alain,

Giraudoux wrote that one judges a play (or a film) by how one wakes up the morning after. From this point of view the experience has proven conclusive. But in fact it began as early as yesterday evening when we came back home. How long had it been since I last experienced that sort of physical lightness that surges when something in you has shifted during a screening? And how many films have I seen these last years that I left enumerating, as though for an accounting exam: yes, the director was talented, yes, the actors had been excellent, yes, the images were beautiful, yes, the story was interesting. And so? And so nothing. Nothing had shifted, I had seen a film, that was all, and it was already burying itself in the swamps of forgetting. I knew that ahead of all critique and all compliment, there needed to have been that initial shudder, that takeover over by another by which, in my youth, I used to recognize the works that would mark me for life. I blamed age, the sclerosis of enthusiasm, saturation by television… Know that I am grateful to you for having all at once returned to me the joy in an evening and that flavor of eternity that I sometimes savored on exiting a theater or cinema in the distant times when we had already come to know each other… That you should have arrived in your first attempt at the essential, that you should have (I am sure of this, more instinct than by premeditation) found the precise distance, the perfect distance, with text placed on film like a delicate web (one step to either side is the fall), that you should have, in short, invented the only way of bringing to life and listening to these characters in the booby-trapped universe of the cinematograph, is on the order of a miracle. Just as Violaine’s voice is miraculous. Here we are light-years from the “well-said” or “well-acted.” We are inside inner truth, inside this total correspondence of voice with that of which it speaks which music alone is sometimes capable of constructing: it would not take much for me to say never has a text been the beneficiary of so much rectitude, radiant humility. Humility! Not a quality that overflows in our great craft… Here it underlies every undertaking, it gives its true counterweight to the grandeur. Never is the beauty of the image—and God knows, it is beautiful—exercised at the expense of the text. Costumes, set, music, everything is at its right distance, nothing seeks to shine for itself alone, and this metaphor of the cathedral that holds the whole play in its embrace, here it incarnates itself in the film, itself, like a mise-en-abime, but the abyss opens skyward.

I have just reread what I wrote and these words appear vain and empty. What I must communicate to you is that with which I began, that state of physical well-being that defies commentary (in English there is a word for it that is untranslatable: exhilaration). When we left the Vidéotheque with my friend Catherine we were breathing easier, we were breathing rarer air. I met a friend who shared his distress over the fate of Russia, which I share, all the more so as I have Russian blood and am currently working on that particular tragedy. To my surprise, I heard myself answer him in a totally different way than the somber tone in which I would have normally expressed myself. I was going out on more of a limb, I was placing bets with greater (if only this word were not a little comical when applied to me) wisdom… And suddenly I realized I was not placing my bet from the basement of Les Halles, from Paris-France, I was placing my bet from the film. You were lending me, for one instant, a platform of grandeur from where I was seeing all things as we should always see them, if we had that strength and that wisdom. Poets are made to create such moments, moments of borrowing a strength that is not ours. The poet Claudel and the poet Cuny came together so that last night such a moment should take place. It is a gift that cannot be forgotten.

Yours, faithfully.
Chris Marker

Letter à Alain de Chris Marker – Exhilaration

Though the context is in absentia, a letter of Chris Marker to Alain Cuny has suddenly appeared on the site www.derives.tv. The letter is from 1991, so the year of Marker’s 70th birthday. The word ‘relics’ somehow comes to mind. It was a Pink Floyd album title, and connotes as well a practice of conserving what remains behind when a great being has departed, often in a saintly or lama-esque context. Somehow the spirit of that being inheres, inhabits the relic. So it is here, though we know that Marker would be the last artist to desire the collection of his own relics. So let us call it a letter, plain and simple, a piece of communication snatched out of time and circumstance. It is a tale in letter form of the magic of cinema, that creates an eternal feeling. Marker had not felt this for a while, then here: an evening of deep emotional engagement in the cinema, triggering all the great films that lived inside him and a moment of heightened awareness that he calls ‘exhilaration’. For he was, like many great filmmakers, a great spectator as well.

Many thanks post-post for an email from one who has done more research on Marker than anyone I can think of – not that it’s a contest, but his work is truly invaluable – Christophe Chazalon. M. Chazalon inquired and received a negative of a page from Libération where this text was originally printed. The film in question turns out to be L’Annonce faite à Marie, directed by M. Cuny. The Libé article’s title: “Chris Marker: ‘De l’ordre du miracle’, with this editorial blurb below: “En 1991, au sortir d’une des première projections de ‘l’Annonce faite à Marie’, Chris Marker écrivait au ‘jeune’ metteur en scène.” I also thank M. Chazalon for delivery of a fully proofed, corrected text of the letter. Merci bien!

You can download the pdf of this newspaper negative here. En plus, Dorna Khazeni has kindly agreed to translate the letter to English, so stay tuned, same cat channel…

§

Cher Alain –

Giraudoux écrivait qu’on jugeait une pièce (ou un film) à la façon dont on se réveillait le lendemain matin. De ce point de vue, l’expérience est concluante. Mais en fait elle a commencé dès hier soir quand nous sommes rentrés. Depuis combien de temps n’avais-je pas éprouvé cette espèce d’allégresse physique qui surgit quand quelque chose a bougé en vous pendant le temps d’une projection ? Et combien de films ai-je vus ces dernières années, dont je sortais en égrenant une espèce d’examen comptable : oui, le metteur en scène avait du talent, oui, les acteurs étaient excellents, oui, l’image était belle, oui, l’histoire était intéressante… Et puis ? Et puis rien. Rien n’avait bougé. J’avais vu un film, voilà tout, et il s’enfonçait déjà dans les marécages de l’oubli. Je savais qu’en amont de toutes les critiques et de tous les compliments, il aurait dû y avoir cet ébranlement initial, cette prise de possession par un autre à quoi, dans ma jeunesse, je reconnaissais les œuvres qui me marqueraient pour la vie. J’accusais l’âge, la sclérose de l’enthousiasme, la saturation de la télé… Voyez si je peux vous être reconnaissant de m’avoir rendu d’un coup la joie d’une soirée, et ce goût d’éternité que je savourais quelquefois à la sortie d’un théâtre ou d’un cinéma dans les temps lointains où nous nous étions déjà rencontrés… Que vous soyez arrivé du premier coup à l’essentiel, que vous ayez (j’en suis sûr, d’instinct plus que méditation) trouvé la distance juste, parfaite, avec un texte qui est posé sur le film comme un fil-de-ferriste (un pas de côté, c’est la chute), que vous ayez en somme inventé la seule manière de faire vivre et écouter ces personnages dans l’univers piégé du cinématographe, c’est de l’ordre du miracle. Comme est miraculeuse cette voix de Violaine. Là, nous sommes à des années-lumière du bien dit ou du bien joué. Nous sommes dans la vérité intérieure, dans cette adéquation totale de la voix avec sa parole que seule quelquefois la musique est capable de construire : il ne faudrait pas me pousser beaucoup pour me faire dire que jamais un texte n’a été servi avec autant de droiture, de rayonnante humilité. L’humilité ! Pas une qualité qui déborde dans notre beau métier… Ici elle sous-tend toute l’entreprise, elle donne son véritable contrepoids à la grandeur. Jamais la beauté de l’image (et Dieu sait qu’elle est belle) ne s’exerce aux dépens du texte. Costumes, décor, musique, tout est à sa bonne distance, rien ne cherche à briller pour soi tout seul, cette métaphore de la cathédrale qui embrasse toute la pièce, la voilà qui s’incarne dans le film lui-même, comme une mise en abîme qui s’ouvre vers le haut.

Je viens de me relire, et ces mots me paraissent vains et vides. Ce qu’il faudrait que je vous communique, c’est ce par quoi je commençais, cet état de bien-être physique qui défie le commentaire (l’anglais a un mot pour ça, intraduisible, exhilaration). Quand nous sommes sortis de la vidéothèque, avec mon amie Catherine, nous respirions mieux, nous respirions plus haut.

A vous, fidèlement
Chris Marker (1991)

Alain Cuny, L’Annonce faite à Marie

Finally, here is the film in question, on YouTube, hélas.