Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

Chris Marker’s Gifts to Patricio Guzmán


With the recent release of Patricio Guzmán’s epic documentary The Battle of Chile on DVD, a moving tale has come to light: of solidarity among filmmakers; of Marker’s focus on giving without need of thanks; of this nearly inexpressible thank you coming nonetheless years later in a revelatory interview; of collaboration and friendship; and of the redistribution of the means of reproduction that made the impossible film possible.

In the ongoing list of ‘things that quicken the heart,’ this tale certainly takes its rightful place. Marker does not wear his heart on his sleeve; rather, he places it carefully into his actions. In this clip of remarkable recollections by Guzmán of Marker, we see the emotional, inspiring result of several of those actions.

Note 6/2015: The very moving video has unfortunately been taken down from and YouTube, so please refer to the transcription, available here: What I Owe to Chris Marker, Patricio Guzmán

The Battle of Chile on DVD

Battle of Chile DVDIn December 2009, Icarus Home Video released a deluxe 4 disc DVD edition of The Battle of Chile. Their site notes:

Long banned in Chile after Pinochet’s coup, only in 1997 could Guzmán return to show THE BATTLE OF CHILE there for the first time. CHILE, OBSTINATE MEMORY (included on the fourth disc here) is the extraordinarily moving record of that homecoming, and a fitting conclusion to a “thrilling documentary double feature,” “the unusual opportunity to see one film artist sustain an inquiry into the life of a troubled country over the course of decades.”

In the press kit [pdf] for the new DVD set, there is a section noting Chris Marker’s contributions, citing a 1975 interview with Guzmán by Le Monde film critic Louis Marcorelles:

Chris Marker played a fundamental role. He had translated into French for us El primero año; so, at the beginning of 1973, when we sensed that the great political crisis was approaching, we wrote to Chris and explained to him that we wanted to make a film which would be a vast panorama of everything that was taking place in Chile, but that we didn’t have any film because of the economic blockade. Chris wrote to me: ‘Very well, I will see what I can do.’ A very short letter. And at the end of three months, he alerted me that he was sending the material. Chris made no conditions on his shipment. He said to us: ‘The material is yours, film with it, all I can do is to send it to you.’

Icarus Films also presents a substantial overview of Guzmán’s life and work on this page. The more one learns, the more it becomes clear why Marker volunteered, in such direct but profound gestures, to become a kind of ambassador for both The First Year and The Battle of Chile — “one of the most eloquent and daring explorations of revolution and repression, hope and memory, to survive our sorry times” (as Ariel Dorfman is quoted) — to Europe and to the world.


  • Thank you Chris Marker!
    I’m Chilean and I knew about your support to The Battle for Chile. I think that you are so important in the history of my country for you significant visionary help to Patricio Guzman. Also I love the movie A Valparaíso is a real historical document of my city and our society. You have to know that all your films are too much important and influencing for us as younger filmmakers. I want to tell you that I really love your films and you and your works are going to survive with us as a cultural legacy and this is the most important, the maintenance of your vision and cinematographic project of life. You wrote the history in your owns terms and you taught us a lot related to reality, humanity, art, power, politic, cultures and knowledge like Brecht, Dostoevsky, Medevkin, etc. You are one of those unknown brilliant persons for me.

    I’m 25 and I just finished my university degree in cinema directing I hope someday know you and talk about cinema and life. I have done some shortfilms witch express my point of view of my society nowadays. I hope you are interested thanks you anyway!

  • We’ll try to get this sorted – the video is not available either here or at its source. Perhaps there is another copy at YT? Or Vimeo? On verra.

Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

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