Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

La mer et les jours


Last Updated on November 18, 2020 by bricoleur

La mer et les jours – Cinémathèque de Bretagne from CinémathèqueDeBretagne on Vimeo.

Commentary by Chris Marker. Thanks to Chris Darke for the tip.

Alain Kaminker, Raymond Vogel
André Dumaitre
Jasmine Chesney
Georges Delerue
inconnu à ce jour
Cinémathèque de Bretagne, ADAV, Cinémathèque de Bretagne


Une journée à l’ile de Sein : le travail des hommes en mer, des femmes et des enfants sur l’ile.

La mer et les jours a été tourné en 1958 à l’île de Sein. Raymond Vogel et son assistant Alain Kaminker (frère de Simone Signoret) voulaient montrer la dure vie des îliens et pour cela s’intégrer et partager leur vie quotidienne.

Après quelques réticences, ils furent acceptés et accueillis dans tous les foyers. Il participèrent à un sauvetage en mer, à la relève des gardiens de phare par gros temps. Ils vécurent avec des îliens des drames de la mer, jusqu’au jour où Kaminker, pris par le mal de mer, refusa de rentrer, s’entêta et fut emporté par une lame de fond…

A day on the Ile de Sein: the work of men at sea, women and children on the island. The Sea and the Days was shot in 1958 on the island of Sein. Raymond Vogel and his assistant Alain Kaminker (Simone Signoret’s brother) wanted to show the hard life of the islanders, to integrate themselves and share their daily life. After some reluctance, they were accepted and welcomed into all homes. They participated in a rescue at sea, the succession of lighthouse keepers in heavy weather. They lived with the islanders the dramas of the sea until the day when Kaminiker, caught by sea sickness, refused to return, became stubborn and was carried away by the waves…

The last sentence is a tough one. According to Arte, what happened is that Kaminiker died, carried away by a wave while filming [“est mort emporté par une vague en faisant des images”]. IMDb says: “Alain Kaminker was the first ever “foreigner” of the island buried in the cemetery of Sein according to the wish of his family.” (Source)

After a discussion of Les Hommes et la baleine (1956) – for which Marker also wrote the commentary – Catherine Lupton also comments on these tragic circumstances in Chris Marker: Memories of the Future:

The theme of human beings confronting the primal forces of the natural world returned in the commentary that Marker wrote for Raymond Vogel’s and Alain Kaminker’s La Mer et les jours (1958), which depicts the winter lull of a remote fishing community on an island off the coast of Brittany. More muted in its leaps of fancy than Les Hommes de la baleine, the text still echoes the preoccupations of Marker’s other works, with its delicate handling of the constant presence of death in the community, and the attention paid to family photographs of fishermen lost at sea. These themes took on an explicitly personal dimension during the making of the film, when Kaminker — the brother of Simone Signoret — was drowned while shooting in the waters around the island.

Catherine Lupton, Chris Marker: Memories of the Future, Reaktion Books, 2005, 59.
Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory
metro laughing woman staring back
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap