Category Archives: Sans Soleil

Indecipherable

For this encounter between thought and image, as staged throughout all films explored by these pages, also discovers particular significance via Sans Soleil. Unlike the films of this book’s earlier chapters that each emerge from a certain definitive horror – the Holocaust, Hiroshima, an atomic apocalypse – Sans Soleil marks a shift towards a more comprehensive, layered interrogation of both strangely familiar and indecipherable aspects of life that exist in relation to sufferings past and yet to come. Sans Soleil’s acute scrutinisation of the banal does indeed reveal unexpected horrors and excesses that bespeak not a single monumental historic event but countless unique injustices and sorrows and their everlasting reverberations.
Nadine Boljkovac, Untimely Affects

Nadine’s book is to be re-released in paperback on June 1, 2015: Untimely Affects: Gilles Deleuze and an Ethics of Cinema [Plateaus – New Directions in Deleuze Studies]

80:81 Chris Marker in Conversation

I’ve added a rare Chris Marker interview with Colin Maccabe to the site. You can find it under pages as 80:81 Chris Marker Speaks with Colin Maccabe. In this talk, Marker discusses his travels to Japan and Guinea-Bissau, his filming of what would become Sans Soleil, the transition of eras from Le fond de l’air est rouge to Sans Soleil, and the four language versions of the latter.

We get a glimpse of the four year time-frame that encompasses the work on Sans Soleil, and its crucial moment of clarity when Marker put the narrative commentary into the past tense, allowing the film to take on the singular quality that we know but still seek to understand.

Sans Soleil brochure cover

Cover of original brochure for Sans Soleil, courtesy Pacific Film Archive

Ça fait longtemps

Sans Soleil
Без солнца Mussorgsky

Fronticepiece, Modest Mussorgsky’s Без солнца [‘Sans Soleil’], as printed in Sans Soleil original brochure, 1982

ça fait longtemps
que l’on a visité
le salle Roxie
à San Francisco
et s’est trouvé
tombé
sous le charme
d’un film
qui s’intitule
simplement
Sans Soleil

ça fait longtemps
trente ans aujourd’hui
ou pas
peu importe
parce que
la mémoire
vaut mieux
que le temps

ça fait longtemps
comme le bon vin
qui chaque année
s’améliore
même si
son créateur
est disparu

—–

Here is the full commentary in the original French for Chris Marker, Sans Soleil:
Commentaire—Sans Soleil

For English and Japanese versions, please visit markertext.com, where you can also find commentary/voice-over texts for À Valpariso, Description of a Struggle, La Jetée and Letter from Siberia, as well as the English version of the text for Marker’s book Coréennes.

Thanks to CMontel & ac-nancy-metz-fr’s servers & the Pacific Film Archive

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.

Take Two

We received this thoughtful reprise of the “moment of happiness” in Sans Soleil via email today:

Cet été en Islande j’ai vu sur les îles vestmann une image qui m’a fait penser au premier plan de Sans Soleil. C’était un groupe de jeunes filles blondes + un petit garçon. J’ai pensé “c’est la même image”. Je viens de revisionner votre film et découvre que vous aviez tourné ce plan sur la même île, je ne me rappelais pas de ce détail. En visionnant ce plan de nouveau j’ai pensé : “on dirait que c’est au même endroit”. Peut-être est-ce les petits-enfants de vos enfants ?

Avec respect,
Bien à vous,
B.D.

Krasna Detective

Remember the borgesian-style story ‘Ate onde le sabe’ from Brazil (featuring Sandor Krasna, the dreamer)? Well, here comes another lusophonic snippet. Lead, garden path, dead end? Who cares. Alas, the smooth, sensual quality … of the Portuguese ‘nos gusta’ is lost in the translation that follows.

q-significa-krasna

1st message (request):

> necesito saber e significado del nombre krasna lo q si se es
> q es de origen checo.

“I need to know the meaning of the name ‘Krasna’ in its original Czech form.”

2nd message (answer):

> krasna es de origen Croata, pero tambien esta presente en otros
> paises como rusia etc. significa algo lindo. algo bonito o algo
> hermoso. es para referirse a alguna cosa o alguna persona que
> nos gusta. ;-D

“Krasna is of Croatian provenience, but also crops up in other countries such as Russia etc. It denotes something nice, pleasant, handsome. It is used to refer to something or someone we like / approve of / suiting our taste.”

Which invites us to read ‘Krasna’ as yet another name for something or someone that / who makes our heart beat faster.

I re-read what I just wrote, and it looks suspiciously familiar. Is it possible that it’s just a paraphrase of something I posted before?

– DK