Category Archives: Anniversaire

Happy Birthday (Belated) Chris Marker

I am remiss. I write from the road, thinking of Chris Marker, the most famous of unknown filmmakers, having just seen a comment from John P noting the missing birthday wishes on the 29th of July. So it is belated and a bit melancholic that I send out whispers to the higher worlds where Marker’s soul is no doubt off on new expeditions, having completed more of a life all across the Earth than can be put into words. I am reminded too of the once annual event of Chris Marker digital postcard—and of course one did not come this year, but here are a few from the past.

Year of the Dragon 2012 Chris Marker

Year of the Cat 2011 Chris Marker

Year of the Tiger 2010 Chris Marker

Bonne Annee 3009

The most fun that has been had with the varying fables of Marker’s birth and birthplace that I have seen comes from M. Chazalon at – Plongée en Immémoire. Hard to translate, but I’ll give it a go soon… Thanks CH2!

Non! Non! Non! Non! Non! Chris Marker n’est pas né en Helvétie, mais bien comme tout le monde le sait à Oulan-Bator, en Mongolie1.
A la suite d’une déception sentimentale de l’Empereur chinois, bien avant le grand bon en avant de maître Mao qui tenait dans son bec un stylo, et sous la douce influence de la bolchévique Union des Républiques du Suprême Soviet Système Social, plus connue de part les contrées de notre voisin sous le nom de SMIC, Chris Marker est transporté pour une croissance améliorée dans les montagnes qui tombent à pic de l’Himalaya où, à la suite d’une embuscade des pirates des mers de Chine, il est finalement récupéré par le gentil bonhomme des neiges Yéti qui décida, nom d’un fromage (ce pourquoi tout le monde pense qu’il est Suisse), de l’aimer comme son fils. C’est d’ailleurs la raison primesautière pour et par laquelle Chris Marker aime tellement les chats2, car comme il est bien connu de tous, “gratter la barbichette du Yéti, il devient tout gentil”, un peu comme un chat, en un peu plus grand. Quelques années plus tard, bien agrandi par cet amour yétiesque, il est décidé de l’envoyer en Argentine pour ses études, en échange Nostradamus des écoles primaires. Là, il étudie aux côtés du bonhomme Fidel et de son ami Bon Débarras, surnomé le Quoi3 allez savoir pourquoi. L’échange terminé, attiré par la gente féminine d’une nature si féline (la pilosité en moins), bifurcation volontaire est prise pour Paris sera toujours Paris, où un savant philosophe du nom de Sartre, à défaut de l’adopter par amour des Yétis, fut engagé par la municipalité pour inculquer à ses semblables, mais pas à lui, la bonne volonté et un peu de sagesse divine, la Bohème et le Spleen étant passés pour ne plus revenir.4
Ainsi sont les premières années officieuses de la vie de Chris Marker. Une histoire bien connue et qui réchauffe le coeur… dont vous pouvez lire la véritable suite et commencement sous “Biographie”.

Happy Birthday Chris Marker

Bon anniversaire Chris!

What else is there to say? Everything’s been said. Birth and death like an oroborous, the legendary snake eating its tail, where the date July 29, 1921 superimposes itself on another date, July 29, 2012. The two dates merge in an origami fold. Inside the fold is an extraordinary life and a wealth of extraordinary works. Inside is a cat, stretching its paws to the sound emanating from the speakers, a cat reclining on a keyboard. Inside is a love affair with cinema, and a Japanese bow to Kurosawa, Tarkovsky and Hitchcock. Inside is a spiral, a tree trunk, the madness of time. Inside are thousands of photographs, each emanating the gaze of the master spectator, the man behind the camera and very rarely in front of it. Inside the fold are memories and a system of memories, strongholds against the onslaught of history’s wounds, erasures, distortions. Inside the fold is the Zone, a place where images mutate and take on disguises, where seekers wander in search of lost time, where stray dogs pace and owls sit with observant eyes, recording. The birth and the death touch like this, like the creation of Adam. The original breath of the baby, the last breath of the old man, still working, always working. The tears of friends and lovers, innumerable fans for the most famous of the unknowns. A loss is felt, because we care for the visions given to us by a man of vision. We care for the traces, relics, breadcrumbs left as a puzzle for our minds but also our hearts. Mysteries of time and remembrance, tastes of the futures fractal in the micro/macro, traces of the places he traveled. The dogs are crazy on the island of Sal, and all the other islands. “I found my dogs pretty nervous tonight; they were playing with the sea as I had never seen them before. Listening to Radio Hong Kong later on I understood: today was the first day of the lunar new year, and for the first time in sixty years the sign of the dog met the sign of water.” He was an island but also a continent, unfindable on any map. There be dragons. There be mysteries. There be celebration, rueful meditation and admiration.

Here’s an intelligent, fun video compiled by ARTE:


“A more modest and perhaps more fruitful approach might be to consider the fragments of memory in terms of geography. In every life we would find continents, islands, deserts, swamps, overpopulated territories and terrae incognitae. We could draw the map of such a memory and extract images from it with greater ease (and truthfulness) than from tales and legends. That the subject of this memory should be a photographer and a filmmaker does not mean that his memory is essentially more interesting than that of the next man (or the next woman), but only that he has left traces with which one can work, contours to draw up his maps.”

Chris Marker, Immemmory

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Happy Birthday Tom Luddy

Tom LuddyHappy Birthday Tom LuddyHappy Birthday wishes go out today to Tom Luddy, longtime Chris Marker friend, director of the Telluride Film Festival, longtime director of the Pacific Film Archive, and a man well worth knowing. Tom’s been a trusted supporter of this site, and has helped answer many questions – my own and others’ – on Marker’s films. When I first met Tom, he let me sit in Sean Penn’s office to view some Marker VHS tapes. I was dumbstruck. I was happy. As we walked to North Beach in San Francisco to find the best espresso ever, he talked of ‘Chris’, of Sans Soleil, of Junkopia, of Tarkovsky, of beings I perhaps did not believe really existed, much less had friendships and drank coffee, slept and got up the next morning. He handed me one of the first books on Chris Marker, a gift. Marker had no use for it, as a small note inside stated. Tom also introduced me to Dorna K., for which I am also eternally grateful – another masterful being. They are real. They have birthdays. A happy one to you Tom!

Here’s an interesting trace of Marker and Luddy.

As you probably know Chris did not make public appearances as a rule, and tried to prevent anyone taking a picture of him too. We were friends and I had also assisted him on three films: “San Soleil,” “The Owl’s Legacy” and “Junktopia.”

I persuaded him to come to Telluride… this was l987. We showed “La Jetee” and “San Soleil.” He would not appear before or after the film inside the theatre — The Sheridan Opera House — but I was allowed to tell the audience that he would be outside on the grass after the film and people could speak to him informally and this happened then, and throughout the weekend with people walking up to him for a chat. Even though he said NO PICTURES, someone did take this picture surreptitiously.Tom Luddy

Telluride Chris Marker at invitation of Tom Luddy

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Bon Anniversaire Chris Marker

giftHappy Birthday to Chris Marker, born this day July 29th in 1921. The old neighborhood of Ulan Bator just hasn’t been the same since you left, but we trust you are thriving in your Parisian arrondissement and enjoying a fabulous 88th birthday. Bon anniversaire! The assorted cats and owls whose paths you have crossed and crisscrossed send their fond regards. Please add your best wishes in the comments. Let’s see how many wishes we can gather here!