Category Archives: DVD

ARTE DVD Release Pairs Mémoires pour Simone and La Solitude de chanteur de fond

memoires-pour-simone-arte

Mémoires pour Simone / La Solitude de chanteur de fond

memoirespoursimone_jaq_modal

deux films de Chris Marker

SIMONE SIGNORET – YVES MONTAND
Deux documentaires uniques sur un couple mythique

MÉMOIRES POUR SIMONE

« Mémoire des lieux. Une salle de projection dans la grande maison d’Autheuil, département de l’Eure : des bobines, des cassettes, des photos, des placards. Ce que l’on vous propose ici, ce n’est pas la vie de Simone, elle l’a racontée mieux que personne dans « La nostalgie… », ce n’est pas sa carrière, d’excellentes émissions de télévision y ont pourvu, c’est le contenu d’un placard, des petits bouts de mémoire en vrac, un voyage à travers les images qu’elle gardait. » nous dit Chris Marker à travers la voix de François Perrier.

Ami et témoin privilégié de la vie de Simone Signoret, parce que leurs chemins n’ont jamais cessé de se croiser depuis qu’ils se sont rencontrés à l’époque du Lycée Pasteur, Chris Marker fera, à la demande du 39ème Festival de Cannes en 1986, le plus beau film-hommage à celle qui disait avoir la nostalgie de la mémoire non partagée.

LA SOLITUDE DU CHANTEUR DE FOND

En février 1974, Yves Montand décide de chanter un soir à l’Olympia, pour les réfugiés chiliens en France. Il n’est pas remonté sur scène depuis 1968, avec le succès de « la bicyclette ». Et il n’a que douze jours pour se préparer…

Informations techniques

PAL- Zone 2 / Coul. / Dolby digital mono/ 16/9 et 4/3
Langues audio : français version originale
Sous-titres : sous-titres sourds et malentendants
Durée film : 122 min.
Durée totale du dvd : 122 min.

More information available at boutique.arte.tv.

English translation of summaries above coming soon.

On Chris Marker’s still-live site GORGOMANCY, the explorer of ambiguous links can find this page, which also pairs the two films and offers them in Flash video format, under the rubric of Elle et Lui: https://gorgomancy.net/elleEtLui.html

Here’s a review of Mémoires pour Simone from a French television airing in 2015 (thanks to this [email protected]):

Chris et Simone, Félins Pour l’Autre

Une grande amitié et l’amour des chats les unissaient. En 1986, Chris Marker réalisait un documentaire en hommage à Simone Signoret.

Comme les chiens dans les peintures de Carpaccio, comme la Arte coccinelle dans les planches de Gotlib, les chats abondent dans la filmographie de Chris Marker. De Riri, «héros» de son tout premier film qui n’en était pas vraiment un, bricolé à 10 ans avec des images fixes, au très virtuel Guillaume-en-Egypte (inspiré du nom de son propre chat), son avatar sur Second Life, en passant par le matou mélomane d’un court métrage-haïku Chat écoutant de la musique, en 1990), les statuettes maneki nekos de Sans soleil (en 1983) ou le jaune Monsieur Chat de Chats perchés (en 2004), ils sont partout. Et présents dans sa vie comme ils l’étaient dans celle de Simone Signoret, que Marker rencontra quand ils avaient 15 ans et dont il fut l’indéfectible ami. «On se retrouvait à midi, à la sortie des cours», écrit la comédienne dans La nostalgie n’est plus ce qu’elle était.

A sa mort en 1985, le festival de Cannes proposa au cinéaste de lui rendre un hommage sous forme documentaire. Composé de fragments de films, de propos d’époque et de souvenirs, Mémoires pour Simone donne notamment la parole à César, «chat de maison» qui a chipé son nom au personnage de Montand, amoureux de Rosalie dans le film de Sautet. «Il [le chat] se souvient, y avance Marker par la voix de François Périer, que, pendant le tournage du Chat (Pierre Granier-De-ferre, 1971), “la patronne” faisait un détour pour éviter de croiser son regard. Elle se sentait mauvaise conscience. » C’est qu’elle y jouait le rôle d’«une dame pas gentille du tout avec un chat» et qu’« elle ne voulait pas qu’il sache» !

Figure de la conscience, le gros chat au regard impassible qui surgit dans Mémoires pour Simone évoque aussi la liberté d’esprit et la constance des engagements sur lesquels Marker et Signoret se retrouvèrent souvent. «Jamais un chat n’est du côté du pouvoir», glisse d’ailleurs le cinéaste dans Le fond de l’air est rouge (en 1977) – un film dont le titre américain (A Grin Without a Cat) adresse un clin d’œil au malicieux Chat du Cheshire, qui fait dire à Alice (sous la plume de Lewis Carroll) que l’on a «souvent vu un chat sans sourire [grin, NDLR], mais jamais un sourire sans chat».

Trois ans après sa mort, Marker sourit encore. François Ekchajzer, Télérama, 09-09-15

Arte to Release “La Trilogie des Balkans” Chris Marker DVD

balkan-trilogy

In an email from April 26th, Sabrina Bendali of Arte France writes of the upcoming release of three Chris Marker films that have been put together into a “Balkan Trilogy.”  The overall title of the DVD is La trilogie des Balkans, set for DVD release on June 7, 2016 and containing the following films:

  • Le 20 heures dans les camps (1993, 26″)
  • Casque Blue (1995, 26″)
  • Un maire au Kosovo (2000, 27″)

Additional materials and details:

  • Slon Tango (4 min. short)
  • interviews with François Crémieux and Jean-Michel Frodon (30 min.)
  • accompanying booklet (20 pages)
  • TRT: 2 hours
  • Language: French with French sub-titles for deaf and hearing-impaired

“Je me permets de vous écrire pour vous signaler la parution le 7 juin prochain du dvd La trilogie des Balkans, dvd qui comprend trois films : Le 20 heures dans les camps, Casque Bleu et Un maire au Kosovo.

Ensemble, ces trois brèves réalisations offrent une perception d’une rare acuité de ce qui s’est joué en ex-Yougoslavie durant la dernière décennie du 20e siècle. […]

Merci et bonne fin de journée.
Sabrina Bendali, Service press ARTE Éditions

More information and purchase are available at boutique.arte.tv/f11125-chris_marker_trilogie_balkans

Here’s an overview from the press release:

À travers les décennies et les convulsions de l’histoire, Chris Marker a toujours fait preuve d’une réactivité sensible et intelligente aux événements de la planète. Ce fut à nouveau le cas avec les guerres balkaniques des années 1990 : 45 ans après la fin de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale, la guerre était de retour en Europe, des camps de concentration étaient ouverts à 500 km de Munich. En 1991-1995, une ville d’Europe symbole du multiculturalisme, Sarajevo, subissait le plus long siège de l’histoire moderne, les civils étaient abattus en pleine rue, la purification ethnique justifiait massacres et viols de masse, la communauté internationale prouvait que, malgré les leçons du siècle qui se terminait, elle restait impuissante à empêcher l’horreur, quand elle n’en devenait pas complice comme à Srebrenica. Dès le début des conflits en ex-Yougoslavie, Marker fut l’un des premiers à réagir. Il devait leur consacrer trois films, chaque fois selon une perspective originale qui, décalant l’observation journalistique ou le plaidoyer de principe, approchent davantage la vérité de ce qui est en train de se jouer, et les liens de ces événements avec le reste du monde.

Rough English Translation

Across the decades and the convulsions of history, Chris Marker always proved himself a sensible and intelligent guide to the events of the planet. This was true once again in the case of the Balkan wars of the 1990s. Forty-five years after the end of World War II, war returned to Europe. Concentration camps were opened around 500 kilometers from Munich. From 1991 to 1995, the European city Sarajevo, symbol of multi-culturalism, suffered the longest siege in modern history. Civilians were killed in the middle of the street, ethnic ‘purification’ justified massacres and mass rapes. The international community proved that, despite the lessons of the century that was ending, it remained impotent at preventing such horror, even becoming complicit in the case of Srebenica. From the beginning of the conflicts in ex-Yugoslavia, Marker was one of the first to react. He devoted himself to three films, each time following an original perspective which, offsetting journalistic observation or ethical plea, approached the truth of what was unfolding, and the links of these events to the rest of the world.

jaquette-trilogie-balkans

Special thanks to Christine van Assche for the ‘jacquette’ image above. Click to enlarge.

Film Summaries

Le 20 heures dans les camps – 26 min
1993. Au camp de Roska en Slovénie, des réfugiés bosniaques, dépouillés de tout ce qui leur appartenait, entreprennent de se réapproprier au moins l’information, en créant une télévision sur cassettes dotée de tous les éléments de la “vraie” télévision : présentateurs, jingles et piratage des émissions qui parlent d’eux.

Casque bleu – 26 min
Le témoignage d’un jeune médecin conscrit qui s’est engagé en 1994 comme casque bleu pour partir en mission en Bosnie. Après 6 mois dans la poche de Bihac, François Crémieux est de retour en France. Quel bilan tire-t-il de son expérience ? Que reste-t-il de ses attentes, de ses projections, de ses fantasmes d’avant le départ ?

Un maire au Kosovo – 27 min
En 1999 Marker recueille le témoignage de Bajram Rexhepi maire de Mitrovitsa, ville devenue célèbre à cause de son pont qui la coupait en deux et séparait la population albanaise du dernier bastion serbe. Bajram Rexhepi a été engagé comme chirurgien, dans l’Armée de libération du Kosovo. Il parle de son engagement et analyse avec lucidité les circonstances qui l’ont fait maire de Mitrovitsa.

PS: For those in Paris on May 28th, check out this symposium on Chris Marker et la photographie: www.fabula.org/actualites/….

Level Five Trailer

A woman (Laura), a computer, an invisible interlocutor: such is the setup on which LEVEL FIVE is built. She “inherits” a task: to finish writing a video game centered on the Battle of Okinawa – a tragedy practically unknown in the West, but whose development played a decisive role in the way World War II ended, as well as in postwar times and even our present.

A strange game, in fact. Contrary to classical strategy games whose purpose is to turn back the tide of history, this one seems willing only to reproduce history as it happened. While working on Okinawa and meeting through a rather unusual network – parallel to Internet – informants and even eye-witnesses to the battle (including film director Nagisa Oshima), Laura gathers pieces of the tragedy, until they start to interfere with her own life.

As in any self-respecting video game, this one proceeds by “levels”. Laura and her interlocutor, intoxicated by their enterprise, use this as a metaphor for life itself, and gladly attribute levels to everything around them. Will she attain LEVEL FIVE?


“A mesmerizing fusion of fact and (science) fiction!” —Toronto Star

“A cinematic gem!” —National Post

“A passionate and cerebral science-fiction adventure…there is nothing else in theaters now that feels quite as new.” —The New York Times

“A fascinating glimpse of a historical event that’s still little known in the West.” —Variety

“Its digressive, elliptic, self-referential approach to depicting the atrocities of war feels like the only true response to such unimaginable horrors. At one point the narrator refers to ‘the ethics of imagery’, and few filmmakers have probed this field with such acuity and sensitivity as Marker has.” —Time Out London

“Too complicated for words – yet unforgettable – Chris Marker signs a masterful historic-fantastic thriller, a vital reflection on death and image… A film on memory and the refusal to forget. An unforgettable film.” —Pierre Murat, Telerama

“An exceptional film!” —Jean-Michel Frodon, Le Monde

“A film full of intelligence and generosity.” —Gerard Lefort, Liberation

“A bit in the same way as Resnais’ HIROSHIMA, MON AMOUR, LEVEL FIVE unwinds the three entangled threads of a ball of yarn: transmission of History, reflection on image and film matter, intimate dialogue.” —Serge Kaganski, Les Inrockuptibles

“Should rightly take its place among the late director’s best work.” —LA Times

“This is a fin de siècle masterpiece crafted with life-worn hope for the new millennium just around the corner and a rueful awareness that the world remains as evanescent as ever.” —Mubi Notebook
Icarus Films

Chris Marker Level Five English DVD Booklet by Christophe Chazalon

Level Five

Chris Marker: In Search of Lost Memory

Christophe Chazalon, www.chrismarker.ch

In February 1997, Level Five was selected to represent France at the Berlin Festival, a few days before it premiered in French theaters. Its critical success was practically unanimous. Yet for the public, it was a flop. A single reason seems to have caused its failure: visual minimalism.

Level Five tells the story of Laura, a woman who must finish off a video-game on the Battle of Okinawa, following the death of its creator, who was the man she loved. A dual story of mourning and memory thus become intertwined. To tell them, Chris Marker chooses simplicity1. Level Five, made with very little means, was filmed by two people. Laura, played by Catherine Belkhodja, is the film’s only protagonist, an exception in the history of cinema. Marker’s love-muse2 plays a role. She is not the privileged witness or narrator of a historical reenactment. In this sense, we are indeed in a fictional world, which is incidentally not the director’s preferred realm. The only fictional stories in his repertoire are the shorts La Jetée (1962) and L’Ambassade (1973).

In Search of Switzerland

In addition to the portion of the film that is dedicated to Laura’s story, Marker adds a part on the Battle of Okinawa in the purest documentary style, which mixes images from archives and personal accounts, and is far from minimalist. The video game is the link between the two. We could speak here of “documented fiction,” as documentary seems to be used as the basis for Laura’s story.

Level Five was born from an encounter. During one of his trips to Japan, Chris Marker met Ju’nishi Ushiyama, founder of the documentary Cinematheque in Tokyo. Ushiyama not only introduced him to the documentaries of Nagisa Oshima3, but even invited him to go the island of Okinawa. Moreover, it was when he made A.K., in 1985, that Marker conceived of Level Five, as he explained in an interview with Le Monde: “the first images of Okinawa were shot in 16mm with cameraman Gérard de Battista in 1985, even then in view of Level Five. I took several other trips to the island after Sans Soleil (a personal fascination,) and I returned there alone with my video camera on several occasions, always thinking of Level Five4.” Marker moreover noted that the images filmed by chief cameraman Yves Angelo “came from an entirely different universe: I had hired Yves Angelo to film a video clip with a British group5. I employed the unused shots when I felt it was necessary to show Laura at least once in another context than the studio, even though I did not want there to be any identifiable reference to place or time.”

If critics went to the trouble of delving into the film, it seemed that viewers were turned off by the part that was devoted to the heroine. In effect, Marker and Belkhodja chose to tell the story in the form of a video journal, like we can do today with a webcam. Laura is only filmed close-up, at a slightly high angle, in the same individual confined space of a tight apartment, between a desk, a computer and a shelf, with just one exception6. It is thus difficult for the viewer, who is used to the camera’s increasingly present movements and the growing trend of editing films, to follow the storyline and identify with the only character, who is only counterbalanced by the director’s voiceover. Yet that’s the opposite effect of what Marker wanted. In a fictitious interview with Dolorès Walfisch, which was written from scratch for the press packet, Marker explains his intention: “as I imagine it is easier for the viewer to see himself in Laura’s suffering than in that of a man who killed his entire family, I’m counting on this recognition to enable viewers to attain the level of compassion that Laura herself achieves by delving into the tragedy of Okinawa.” The film’s failure with the public hinges on this detail: it was too difficult to identify, not because of Catherine Belkhodja’s acting, since it would be difficult to reproach her for anything, given the tough task she was assigned, but due to an aesthetic bias – that it was unglamorous, cold, and far too bare.

IMAGES AND REALITY: THE INFINITE LIE OF THE DIGITAL ERA

Level Five falls within an important period of transition for humanity: the digital era, in which Marker saw prodigious possibilities, along with terrifying dangers, and which subsequently became one of the main subjects of his research.

Everything began in the late 1970s when Marker turned away from the collective cinema he had introduced in 1967 with the creation of the SLON and the making of Far from Vietnam [Loin du Vietnam], Information technology, then in its infancy, drew him in like a lover with all of its related promises.

Marker was no longer just a filmmaker. He is a filmmaker, video maker, artist, programmer, computer engineer, photographer, etc., dividing his life between the real and the virtual. This was how in 1978 he came to make his first video installation. Quand Le siècle a pris forme: guerre et revolution [Mhen the Century Took Shape: Mar and Revolution], at the same time as the 1900-1933 Paris-Berlin Exposition held at the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris. It was a montage of period film sequences which had been carefully selected from cinematographic archives, and processed using information technology. The final short was projected onto several screens more or less simultaneously.

Through this project. Marker was already trying to modify images, something he would describe nearly four years later in Sans Soleil, a film-balance sheet which marks a turning point in his work. “My friend Hayao Yamaneko found a solution: if the images of the present don’t change, change the images of the past… He showed me the fights from the Sixties processed by his synthesizer. Images that lied less, he said with the conviction of fanatics like the ones you see on television. At least they present themselves as what they are, images, not the transportable and compact form of a reality that is already inaccessible.”7 Yet Hayao Yamaneko was none other than Chris Marker, just like Sandor Krasna, the film’s protagonist or Michel Krasna, his “brother,” in charge of the “electroacoustical soundtrack.” All of Marker’s future installations, from Zapping Zone (1990-1994) to Owls at Noon Prelude: The Hollou Men (2005), not to mention Silent Movie (1995) or Immemory (1997: CD-ROM and installation)8, directly process the image, the content, just as much as the container, because the digital era is definitively one of entirely azimuth information, which is conveyed by the image first and foremost. Nevertheless, images never say what they are, but always claim to be what they are not. Image is a fiction, a future recreation of a present moment which was real, but which is no longer nor will it ever be, and this is due to the mere fact of its differed interpretation, its semantic position (be it a film, a book, an exposition…), which is guided by our own cultural baggage and our experiences. Yet, in our modern society, image is the main element of our memory. Due to its concentration of information, its rapidity for reading, its facility for circulation, it is privileged above all other forms of transmission (writing, language, etc.). The main element does not mean the best element, but the one that is most used, because it is the easiest, the most immediate.

Within this framework, the video game is presented as a metaphor for documentary film. In one of his first films. Lettre de Sibérie, Marker had already proposed three different commentaries for a single sequence, just like an exercise in the style of Queneau. All three could be valid, yet ultimately none were. In Level Five, he questions the viewer about images, and their accompanying truth. To do so, he takes three examples, which Laurent Roth describes as follows: “there is this Japanese newsreel where the women of Okinawa are rushing around the top of a cliff. One of them hesitates, yet sees she is being filmed and jumps… There is this American sergeant, decorated as a war hero for having planted the star-spangled banner on Okinawan soil during a staging and under the lens of photographers. He’d been forbidden from revealing the deception, became crazy, committed suicide… There is lastly this death by fire which we find in all cuts on the conflicts in the Pacific. In a drop from the shot (not used in the cut,)Laura shows us that death reveals itself, preferring to live off-camera rather than die sacrificed in the shot…”9.

Marker says nothing but this: that a documentary film is a montage of images which from the time they are taken to their assembly retranscribe a multitude of truths, but never reality. That is moreover why he always refused the term cinema-reality for his film The Lovely Month of May, preferring that of “direct cinema,” invented by Mario Ruspoli. Once people understood that, they could move on to memory and its inscription. Yet in I960, in America as Seen by a Frenchman, François Reichenbach was already emphasizing this strange attitude of modern man.10 “In each American, the commentary said, there is a photographer. And in each photographer, there is always a tourist. If you meet one, don’t be surprised if you see them running through the world without looking. Their roll of film is their memory. Once they’ve returned, to their armchair, the album on their lap, they’ll relax, start loving the world, they’ll begin to travel.” Marker too had photos for memory. In Sans Soleil, he noted: “Lost at the edge of the world, on my island of Sal, accompanied by my entirely pretentious dogs, I remember that January in Tokyo, or rather I remember the images I filmed that lanuary in Tokyo. They have now taken the place of my memory; they are my memory. I ask myself how people who don’t film, who don’t take pictures, who don’t make tapes remember, what humanity did to remember…” Yet once the film debuted he asked himself another question. “He wrote to me: “I would have spent my life questioning the function of memory, which is not the opposite of forgetting, but rather its reverse. We don’t remember, we rewrite memory like we rewrite history. How do we remember thirst? How do we remember? What do we really remember? What is memory?

REGARDING THE IMPROBABLE TRACES OF MEMORY

In Level Five, Marker again tries to respond through the intermediary of Laura-Belkhodja, still confined in her space, in front of her screen, trying to correspond with the dead, to keep alive what has already withered, blurred, disappeared from her mind. It is then that she wonders: “If I was able to forget the smallest detail of the tent, which was so precise the last time I had come, what details about you will I continue to lose, one by one?”

And the game of associations begins. Her first name evokes that of the heroine of an eponymous film by Otto Preminger, made in the midst of World War II, which was as resounding a success as the melody that accompanied it: Laura (1943). It is not by chance that Marker inserted this film into Level Five. In addition to the desired resemblance between the two Lauras, memory is also in question. Laura-Belkhodja remembers having seen this film with the person she loved, in iapan. And moreover, her first name is actually not Laura; it was him, from that day forward, that gave her that “first name.” She remembers that. And then she remembers the topic of the film, but less clearly. The history of the origin of this topic is still in her memory but the notes, the words, are not. Laura needs to take the sheet music back out in order to be able to hum along and regain a semblance of times lost.

Level Five, even though it was not made directly after it, is a sequel to Sans Soleil. And there, another reference becomes clear to anyone who has seen Sans Soleil, a film through which Marker sets off on the tracks of another film that is essential to him: Alfred Hitchock’s Vertigo (1958). Yet this film, whose story indeed points to that of Preminger-’s Laura, in turn echoes another key work: In Search of Time Past (1913-1927) by Marcel Proust. The threads are relentlessly intertwined. Indeed anyone who speaks of Proust remembers his famous madeleine, which is also the first name of the heroine in Vertigo. Yet for Proust, what best triggered the mechanism of memory was not the gaze. He wrote: “And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before mass), when I went to say good morning to her in her bedroom, my aunt Leonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane. The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it; perhaps because I had so often seen such things in the meantime, without tasting them, on the trays in pastry-cooks’ windows, that their image had dissociated itself from those Combray days to take its place among others more recent; perhaps because of those memories, so long abandoned and put out of mind, nothing now survived, everything was scattered; the shapes of things, including that of the little scallop-shell of pastry, so richly sensual under its severe, religious folds, were either obliterated or had been so long dormant as to have lost the power of expansion which would have allowed them to resume their place in my consciousness. But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, taste and smell alone, more fragile but more enduring, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, remain poised a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting, hoping, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unflinchingly, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.[TN: Remembrance of Things Past. Volume 1: Swann’s Way: The definitive French Pleiade edition translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin. New York: Vintage, pp. 48-51 11

FROM MEMORY TO “IMMEMORY”

It’s here that the video game intervenes and takes on its full meaning. Of course in Sans Soleil, Yamaneko-Marker says that “electronic matter is the only thing that can process feeling, memory and imagination.” Yet there is one fact that is way more important: the computer does not forget, especially since it has no humor. Also, once Laura tries to ask it foolish questions, the answer is always the same – cold and biting. The evidence: to get good answers, you need to ask good questions. The difficulty: to get good answers, you need to ask good questions. Therein lies the entire principle of this game and for Laura, the impossible task, because this video game does not, like the majority of video games, aim to reinvent, to rewrite History, arriving at new aims, but to strictly and correctly rewrite the true history of the Battle of Okinawa. Hence the levels. Level Five is ultimately not Laura’s story. It is firstly the untold history of a massacre, and above all a reflection on Human History. The massacre is one of the most important of the 20th century. Marker provides clues in his press packet. The debut of an American CD-ROM on World War II is one of the film’s points of departure. It concluded, in speaking of the Battle of Okinawa, that there were approximately 100,000 deaths, including numerous civilians, which Marker emphasizes is doubly false. There were indeed 100,000 Japanese soldiers killed, but in addition 12,000 American soldiers, and above all 150,000 Okinawan civilians, that is, a third of the island’s population, the majority of whom committed suicide. And therein lies the drama. Yet this battle was the source of an even bigger drama, since its result led to the Americans dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945. Yet not only do Americans make no mention of these Okinawan civilian deaths; even the Japanese keep this fact completely silent. It is a silence which Marker finds shameful, because it ends up eradicating the event from the collective memory. It is for this reason that he decided to highlight it in his film. And to do so, he did not make a fictional film retracing the battle, but went out to look for direct witnesses, who participated in the collective suicides, or indirect ones, who were trying not to forget, and to pay homage to the victims.

Human History and collective memory are ultimately not very different from history and individual memory. They are incomplete, due to the inevitable succession of events, to forgetting, whether voluntary or not, to the multiplicity of entries and points of view. In order to really portray that, at the same time as he was making Level Five, Marker created a CD-ROM which is nothing less than his autobiography, entitled Immemory. Just as the video game has several possible points of entry for arriving at gradually reconstituting the actual Battle of Okinawa, a reader of Immemory has several points of entry for discovering Marker’s life – except for one thing: the data entered into the CD-ROM is mainly the pure invention of the author. That’s the lesson to be drawn from Level Five. In order to reach Level Five, all of the correct data must be entered into the machine. But that’s impossible. So Level Five is unattainable! Nevertheless, it remains the level to achieve to be able to better envision the future – our future.

Christophe Chazalon / chrismarker.ch

  1. This choice was as much a personal desire as a budgetary constraint.
  2. During this period she was Marker’s muse. We find her in L’Héritage de La chouette (1989) or The Last BoLshevik (1993), in the video clip Getting away with it (1989), the haiku video Owls gets in your eyes (1994) or even in the Zapping Zone (1990-1994/Zone TV) and Silent Movie (1995) installations.
  3. Two films by Nagisa Oshima are listed in the credits: The Sunken Tomb (Ikiteru umi no bohyô) from 1970, which literally translates to “The tomb of the living sea,” and The Dead are Always Young (Shisha wa itsudemo wakai) from 1977.
  4. Chris Marker, “I never ask myself if, why, how…” (interview by Dean-Michel Frodon), Le Monde, February 20, 1997, p. 31. In fact, we find images of Okinawa as early as in Sans Soleil (1982).
  5. This is Getting away with it (1989) by the group Electronic, produced by Michael H. Shamberg.
  6. In La Jetée too, there was an exception to this genre. Comprised of photographs, the film only contained one filmed sequence.
  7. Consequently, in all of his photographic work, Marker would process the images by blurring them or adding in effects, even with his previous series, such as Coréennes (1959) which he reedited in 1989, in Korean, and again exhibited in Arles, in its blurred version, 2011.
  8. The same is true for the series of photographs he did from that from that point forward.
  9. Laurent Roth, “LeveL Five, un film de Chris Marker. Okinawa, l’amour et l’ordinateur” [“LeveL Five, a film by Chris Marker. Okinawa, love and the computer,”] Le Monde diplomatique, February 1st, 1997.
  10. The commentary to this film was written by Chris Marker.
  11. In his autobiography Immemory (in CD-ROM format), Marker debuts the section “Mémoire” with portraits of Proust and Hitchcock, followed by this extract from Swann’s Way.

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Soda Pictures Releases 3 DVD Chris Marker Collection in English

Chris Marker Collection, a 3 DVD set of Chris Marker films published to coincide with the Whitechapel exhibition currently running in London, is out! The 3 DVD collection of Chris Marker films was published June 2, 2014 by SODA Film+Art and is now available for purchase. It’s a thrilling addition to Marker’s English-language releases. Without further ado, here are the overall details on the release. We’ll ad some additional images down the road.

Chris Marker Collection DVD set

Contents

BLU-RAY

  • Sunday in Peking (Dimanche á Pékin, 1956, 22 min)
  • Letter From Siberia (Lettre de Sibérie, 1958, 62 min)

DVD 1

  • Sunday in Peking (Dimanche á Pékin, 1956, 22 min)
  • Letter From Siberia (Lettre de Sibérie, 1958, 62 min)
  • Description of a Struggle (Description d’un combat, 1960, 60 min)

DVD 2

  • The Sixth Side of the Pentagon (La Sixiéme face du Pentagone, 1968, 27 min)
  • The Embassy (L’Ambassade, 1973, 20 min)
  • Theory of Sets (Théorie des ensembles, 1991, 11 min)
  • Three Video Haikus (Trois Vidéo Haikus, 1994, 3 min)
  • Blue Helmet (Casque blue, 1996, 26 min)
  • E-CLIP-SE (1999, 8 min)
  • The Case of the Grinning Cat (Chats perchés, 2004, 59 min)

Blu-Ray tech info: Aspect ratio: 4:3 | Running time: 80 mins. approx. | Audio LPCM 2.0 Stereo
Language English/French with English subtitles S| Region B | Colour | 1080p | 24fps

DVD Tech info: Aspect ratio: 4:3 | DVD 1 Running time: 134 mins. approx. | DVD2 Running time: 154 mins. approx. | PAL
Language English/French with English subtitles | Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 Sterio | Region 2 | 1080p | 24fps

Chris Marker Collection - interior

Passion for Words, Madness for Images

This collection of Chris Marker films consists of three works that pre-date La Jetée, the featurette that firmly planted his name as a filmmaker, as well as a series of seven shorter films that span each decade of his career thereafter. These remarkable curios reveal much about him, his ideas and his visuality, as well as his take on the modern world from an artistic point-of-view – from China, Siberia and Israel in the 1950s to the Pentagon, art collectives, cheshire cats, haikus and early new media.

Released in conjunction with a major exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery, London, and with a new piece by writer and curator Chris Darke (Rediscovering Chris Marker), alongside a seminal early piece by Roger Tailleur (Markeriana: A Scarcely Critical Description of the Work of Chris Marker).

Chris Marker Collection DVD 1 - Pentagon

About Soda Film + Art

Soda Film + Art (SoFA) is an international agency that focuses on visual artists working in feature filmmaking. It operates at the nexus of film and art, and acts as a centralised bureau for development, production, sales, distribution and exhibition support. SoFA also has a collectable DVD label, with bespoke packaging that is unique to each title and artist vision, but together forms a cohesive library – and ultimately an overview of what’s happening in art + film today. sodapictures.squarespace.com | www.sodapictures.com/about-us/

Purchase: sodapictures.squarespace.com

Rediscovering Chris Marker

By 2002, it was evidently no longer enough to describe Marker simply as a ‘filmmaker’; cinema was merely one of the forms into which this prolific artist had channelled his protean creativity. When Marker died in July 2012, aged 91, he left behind an utterly singular body of work. From his first appearance in print as an author in 1946 to his final film, a 60-second ‘trailer’ for the 2012 Vienna film festival, his oeuvre spanned over 65 years and was remarkable in its scope. He designed and edited books, published journalism and essays, as well as a novel and short stories. As a visual artist, he was an accomplished photographer, cartoonist, and multimedia practitioner. But he remains best remembered as a filmmaker, with more than forty-five titles to his name and over thirty more as a commentary-writer or editor.
Chris Darke, “Rediscovering Chris Marker”, Chris Marker Collection booklet, 5

Chris Marker English DVD Box Set Coming Soon

Soda PicturesI do have my RSS spies out there, my Google and Talkwalker alerts, but it was a real live human being – the awesome Fenn Brown – who informed me of this Chris Marker news. To wit: a 3 DVD collection of Marker films, going back to Sunday in Peking, passing through the essential Letter to Siberia and Description of a Struggle, and finishing up with The Case of the Grinning Cat are being published by Soda Pictures in the UK (no mention on their site of this that I could find). There are also some surprises like E-CLIP-SE and Theory of Sets. The wait for some of these has stretched on for decades, so I’m sure there is a healthy appetite for both the hors d’oeuvres and the main courses! Youtube, of course, has provided some sustenance in the meantime…
Blue-ray.com

Message Body:
Hello – You may know of this release already but could not see any details on your fine site by searching …

https://www.blu-ray.com/news/?id=13767

“The Chris Marker Collection” – out 2nd June, maybe?

CONTENT:

Sunday In Peking (Dimanche à Pékin, 1956) (also on Blu-Ray)
Letter To Siberia (Lettre de Sibérie, 1958) (also on Blu-Ray)
Description Of A Struggle (Description d’un combat, 1960)
The Sixth Side Of The Pentagon (La Sixième face du Pentagone, 1968)
The Embassy (L’Ambassade, 1973)
Theory Of Sets (Théorie des ensembles, 1991)
Three Video Haikus (Trois Video Haikus, 1994)
Blue Helmet (Casque bleu, 1996)
E-CLIP-SE (1999)
The Case Of The Grinning Cat (Chats Perchés, 2004)

Spec Aspect ratio: 4:3
BD running time: 80 mins approx
DVD1 running time: 134 mins approx
DVD2 running time: 154 mins approx
English/French with English subtitles

Best wishes,
Fenn

Pre-order is available on www.amazon.co.uk for £20.74. Region is B/2; Aspect Ratio 4:3 – 1.33:1; Number of discs: 3; Studio: Soda Pictures; DVD Release Date: 2 June 2014.

Soda Pictures was not a name familiar to me. Perusing their online catalog, however, revealed some familiar directors. Their catalog includes the following noteworthy films:

  • Close-Up by Abbas Kiarostami
  • Hannah Arendt by Margerethe Von Trotta
  • Klimt by Raul Ruiz
  • La Danse by Frederick Wiseman
  • Little Dieter Needs to Fly; The Wild Blue Yonder & Wheel of Time by Werner Herzog
  • Moloch by Alexander Sokurov
  • Museum Hours by Jem Cohen
  • Only Lovers Left Alive by Jim Jarmusch
  • Patience (After Sebald) by Grant Gee
  • Strayed by André Téchiné
  • Tetro by Francis Ford Coppola
  • The Cuckoo by Aleksandr Rogozhkin
  • The Thorn in the Heart by Michel Gondry
  • Wadjda by Haifaa Al-Mansour

More on the Marker release as more is revealed, and thanks again to Fenn.

Today, the day after the post, I received a nice note from filmaker Gareth Evans confirming this release:

We nudged Soda to do this as it is designed explicitly to tie in with the Whitechapel show. Chris [Darke] is doing the sleeve essay. They also released Patience (after Sebald), very much inspired by Marker, which we both worked on. Due out 2 June.Gareth Evans

For an update on the release, see the subsequent post Soda Releases 3 DVD Chris Marker Collection in English.

Arte Now Offering ‘Planète Chris Marker’ DVD Collection

arte-planete-marker

Arte’s new DVD collection of Chris Marker films includes the following titles:
coffret-planete-chris-marker-sm-ds

  • La Jetée – restored version
  • Sans Soleil – restored version
  • Le Joli mai – restored version
  • Loin du Vietnam – restored version
  • Le fond de l’air est rouge – restored version
  • Sixties
  • A.K.
  • Mémoires pour Simone – restored version
  • La solitude du chanteur de fond
  • Le tombeau d’Alexandre
  • Chats perchés

Technical information from Arte’s web page for the collection states: PAL – Zone 2; Dolby Digital 2.0; Audio languages: English, audiovision, French; Total duration of DVD: 1200 minutes.

They list as supplements to the collection a 120 page booklet, 3 post cards and 4 shorts: (1) La Jetée supplement – 30 minutes; (2) ‘Autour du Joli Mai‘ – 62 minutes; (3) Loin de Vietnam supplement – 30 minutes; (4) Chats perchés supplement – 20 minutes. All these are new—or at least new to us—and definitely peak our curiosity.

The word they use ‘compléments’ (a guess, as the browser is rendering it as Compléments) could mean outtakes, as it has the connotation of ‘remainders’, so that is one possibility. The chance to see outtakes of La Jetée is doubtless for many especially interesting. It remains to be seen how well the English subtitles work for this edition; we hope to report on that down the road.

The contents of Sixties is not familiar – perhaps our readers could shed some light on that in the comments…

Lettre de Sibérie and Dimanche à Pékin Coming Soon to DVD

lettredesiberie-dvdAs twilight passes into night on the left coast of an increasingly hysterical nation, I find somehow my browser has arrived, as if of its own volition, at amazon.fr. I had received an odd email re. a company trying to brand the word “chrismarker” and my thoughts turned toward the still very much missed bricoleur. I was wondering if someday some entity would trademark everything or if it might be a new line of perfume. A visitor had commented on Marker’s Bestiary and I found that these short films had been assembled on a DVD by Icarus Films. Thanks John. I wondered what else might be happening in markerland. I reset my password to amazon.fr, as my login management machine seemed to have let it fall into the moss of time.

Coffret Planète Chris MarkerMy search revealed some soon to be released products. First, a mysterious “coffret” of 8 Marker films: “Coffret Planète Chris Marker” with this meager summary: “Retrouvez une grande partie de l’oeuvre de Chris Marker en 8 films.” If you use the zoom tool on amazon.fr, there actually seem to be 10 total films included: La jetée, Le joli mai, Loin du Vietnam, La solitude du chanteurd du fond,  Le fond de l’air est rouge, Sans soleil, A.K., Mémoires pour Simone, Le tombeau d’Alexandr et Chats perchés.”

coffret-zoom-side-titles1200 minutes of Chris Marker. Wow! Thanks ARTE. Release date: November 19, 2013. Bear in mind that when I first saw it and drafted this post, there was no branding, no image, now it looks elegant, like an auteur’s Oeuvres, and resonates in title with the exhibition upcoming at the Centre Pompidou. Reality is shifting daily in front of my eyes – same for you? OK then.

Second, a DVD that brings together two crucial films: Lettre de Sibérie bundled with Dimanche à Pékin. Exciting, but not available until October, and only in the original French. Hopefully this pairing will find its way to an English release before too long. Details list Studio as Tamasa Distribution and release data as October 15, 2013. Here’s the description:

Ce DVD contient 2 films :
– Lettre de Sibérie :
Je vous écris d’un pays lointain. On l’ appelle la Sibérie. A la plupart d’entre nous, il n’évoque rien d’autre qu’une Guyane gelée, et pour le général tsariste Andréiévitch, c’était “le plus grand terrain vague du monde”. Il y a heureusement plus de chose sur la terre et sous le ciel, fusssent-ils sibériens, que n’en ont rêvées tous les généraux…
– Dimanche à Pékin :
“Rien n’est plus beau que Paris, sinon le souvenir de Paris. Et rien n’est plus beau que Pékin, sinon le souvenir de Pékin. Et moi, à Paris, je me souviens de Pekin et je compte mes trésors” Chris Marker.

I found myself finally on a page called “Les Zones”, which conveyed information about encoding of DVDs by geographical zone (Pal vs. NTSC). Again, misty hints of Marker. These how did I get here moments are re-traceable, but only to a degree – which is good, as we don’t want to know what I had for dinner. Maybe Proust wants to know that. The moss of time is a preservation zone too. I don’t want Total Recall, just the soft covering of old stones that stay out of the sun. Room for new things. Room for some new DVDs of old movies that are precious.

Criterion Releases La Jetée & Sans Soleil on Blu-Ray

Criterion Collection La Jetee + Sans SoleilAs you probably know by now, swimming as we are in era of no news is new news, Chris Marker’s incomparable masterworks La Jetée and Sans Soleil have been released again, this time on Blu-Ray by Criterion. Originally paired on DVD in a French edition by Arte Video in 2003, the films came to Criterion DVD in 2007.

I believe some of the extras on the Blu-Ray edition, released last week on February 7, 2012, are new, others appearing already on the earlier release (and, indeed, some already on the Arte DVD). Junkopia‘s inclusion is, I believe, new. I’m going to have to spend some money to find out for sure. A partial list of extras is presented by Criterion for the GUILLAUME-APPROVED EDITION:

  • Restored high-definition digital transfers, approved by director Chris Marker, with uncompressed monaural soundtracks
  • Two interviews with filmmaker Jean-Pierre Gorin
  • Chris on Chris, a video piece on Marker by filmmaker and critic Chris Darke
  • Two excerpts from the French television series Court-circuit (le magazine): a look at David Bowie’s music video for the song “Jump They Say,” inspired by La Jetée, and an analysis of Hitchcock’s Vertigo and its influence on Marker
  • Junkopia, a six-minute film by Marker, Frank Simone, and John Chapman about the Emeryville Mudflats
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by Marker scholar Catherine Lupton, an interview with Marker, notes on the films and filmmaking by Marker, and more

For a (technical) review of the Blu-Ray with some nice screen captures, see: criterionforum.org. This reviewer, Chris Galloway, is most impressed by the high-definition transfer of La Jetée: “contrast is perfect with rich blacks and distinct gray levels…” He is, however, left wanting to know more about Marker himself. Clearly, that’s going to take more work than viewing the extras. As Montaigne said, “All the world knows me in my book, and my book in me.”  The work is the life-mirror. Convex or concave, this mirror is the gateway to the man, biographies be damned.

Speaking of biography, Marker fans will perhaps know of the far-ranging new website on Marker located at chrismarker.ch (sub-titled “On a Quest from Switzerland”). It’s quite an experience—full of arcane research, humour and crazy little graphics, hard on the eye and surely subject for a different post—but en bref, directly on the home page we’re presented with a wild ride of phantasmagorical biography, that goes from Mongolia to Chinese pirates to the Himalaya, then Argentina (“pour ses études, en échange Nostradamus des écoles primaires”), before arriving in Paris. If you read French, definitely take this new site for a weekend Harley (or Ducati) ride through the Alps. Don’t miss the great page on censorship and the fascinating one on music in Marker’s films.

But back to the Blu-Ray. You can get a look at the packaging on a different page of the Criterion Forum. Guillaume holds a sign above the Blu-Ray mark on the sticker, partially obscuring a revered Japanese cat (the nerve).

The Criterion Collection is known to cinéphiles throughout the world. I was curious how they summarized their work, and found this passage on their site, criterion.com:

Each film is presented uncut, in its original aspect ratio, as its maker intended it to be seen. Every time we start work on a film, we track down the best available film elements in the world, use state-of-the-art telecine equipment and a select few colorists capable of meeting our rigorous standards, then take time during the film-to-video digital transfer to create the most pristine possible image and sound. Whenever possible, we work with directors and cinematographers to ensure that the look of our releases does justice to their intentions. Our supplements enable viewers to appreciate Criterion films in context, through audio commentaries by filmmakers and scholars, restored director’s cuts, deleted scenes, documentaries, shooting scripts, early shorts, and storyboards.

So, what exactly is Blu-Ray? Guillaume may know more than we do, but maybe it’s worth defining a term once in a while. So off to Wikipedia:

Blu-ray Disc (official abbreviation BD) is an optical disc storage medium designed to supersede the DVD format. The plastic disc is 120 mm in diameter and 1.2 mm thick, the same size as DVDs and CDs. Blu-ray Discs contain 25 GB per layer, with dual layer discs (50 GB) being the norm for feature-length video discs. Triple layer discs (100 GB) and quadruple layers (128 GB) are available for BD-XL re-writer drives.

The name Blu-ray Disc refers to the blue laser used to read the disc, which allows information to be stored at a greater density than is possible with the longer-wavelength red laser used for DVDs.

So now you know nothing new about the films themselves, but suffice to say they will look as good as it gets outside of real screenings (real reels, real projectors, real audience, fake popcorn). Enjoy, and let us know what you think. O, and one more thing: have you noticed how Chat écoutant la musique has begun to go viral? 44,272 views (and counting) on YouTube in this upload. If you search twitter for Chris Marker, you’ll see what I mean. Even Criterion tweeted about it recently. Maybe this short, exquisite rêverie is on its way to becoming the 3rd most famous film by the most famous of unknown filmmakers.

Singing the Motherland

One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich by Chris Marker - DVDThe release of Chris Marker’s heartfelt, heartbreaking film about Tarkovsky (“le maître” as he once confided), One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich [55 min./2009], is welcome news for both Marker and Tarkovsky fans—who tend to overlap, for reasons that are worth pondering. The film is accompanied by two other films hand-picked by Marker, Three Songs About Motherland by Marina Goldovskaya [39 min./ 2009] and In the Dark by Sergey Dvortsevoy [41 min./2004]. Marker notes that these are “magnificent examples of the present documentary work in Russia.”

Here is Marker’s evocation of the two accompanying films, a text that appears on the back of the DVD and on the Wexner Center store site, where the DVD is available for purchase:

THREE SONGS ABOUT MOTHERLAND, the title of Marina Goldovskaya’s inspired wandering throughout her country, could have been used as a general title for this DVD. Each of us in his manner sings the paean or the doom of a place on Earth that defies any rational grasp. I had the easiest task. Entering Tarkovsky’s world carries you within a sumptuous chorale, a multivoiced fugue that encompasses all that’s Russian. Marina, since years, pursued a patient pilgrimage home, with her unique gift to mix with people and extract the best of them. As for Sergei Dvortsevoy and his blind man, he illuminates the Russian way to embody what has been since Antiquity the natural hobby of sightlessness: prophecy. The night Stalin died, I was on Times Square, besides another blind man: Moondog, the musician. I couldn’t help feeling something metaphorical in this confrontation between blindness and History. There we were, like the apes at the beginning of Kubrick’s 2001, facing an opaque, indecipherable monolith. So is the blind man in his basement, facing the enigma of an opaque, indecipherable country which he manages to graze with the help of his companion the cat, the creature who sees what even the seers don’t see. Sometimes we come to the conclusion that Mother Russia just can’t be analyzed, criticized, dismantled, explained: too complex, too brutal, too elusive, too paradoxical, too cavorting… Sometimes even, to my dismay, she can’t be loved. But still, yes, she can be sung.
— Chris Marker

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