Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

Far From Vietnam Restored

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Thanks to one of our readers for pointing out the screening, at the British Film Institute’s 53rd London Film Festival (14—29 October 2009), of Loin de Vietnam [Far From Vietnam], the collaborative film contributed to and edited by Chris Marker in 1967. It is especially exciting to hear news of this film’s recent restoration by the Archives françaises du film du CNC together with SOFRACIMA. The restored film was screened at Cannes as well earlier this year.

Far From Vietnam

As our correspondent aptly points out, while not explicitly credited as editor, Marker’s “fingerprints seem to be all over the film”. (As is often the case, Marker’s signature is more indelibly imprinted in his productions than his physical presence or official credits). He goes on to mention that “an announcement at the beginning of the screening stated that the Archives were using Loin Du Vietnam as a flagship restoration and would be restoring some of the lesser known works of the new wave directors and directors associated with the group. Might this possibly mean a new Marker restoration in the works? From what I could gather, it might be worthwhile to keep an eye out for possible restoration releases from the Archives.” Indeed.

Clive Jeavons writes on the BFI Festival site:

Films against war can never go out of fashion, and this revival of the (mostly) French ‘new wave’ directors’ collective protest against the Vietnam War in 1967, restored by the Archives Françaises du Film (CNC) in collaboration with SOFRACIMA, needs no excuses. A classic example of what documentary historian Erik Barnouw has called guerrilla filmmaking in its angry, violent denunciation of American aggression in Vietnam, the co-operative project brought together Agnès Varda, Joris Ivens, William Klein, Claude Lelouch, Jean-Luc Godard and Alain Resnais, co-ordinated by Chris Marker, who mobilised 200 technicians, cameramen, editors and the like for more than four months to knit together imagery of the war, interviews, intellectual styles, fictional incursions and documentary footage in a bid to counter and interpret the intensive media coverage and propaganda manipulated by the American government. Necessarily dated and unwieldy though the film may now seem, it was a group film-making effort unique in the cinema’s history and remains a powerful and passionate plea for peace. William Klein summed it up thus: ‘How to make a ‘useful’ film? Fiction, agit-prop, documentary, what? We were never able to decide, but we had to do something.’ The film has been restored from the original reversal 16mm print and blown up to 35mm.

3 comments

  • oops, that wasn’t my full comment. anyhoo.
    thats a shame, if i’d found out about that a little earlier i would’ve gone. Well hopefully they’ll restore another early Marker film which will go some way to pacifying me i suppose.

  • Yes, it’s been a bit hard lately to stay on top of Marker events due to my day job. Sorry you missed the event. I did too, as I’m nowhere near Cannes or London! Thanks for the note. Hopefully more screenings of this print will be offered at various places, and it will make it to DVD as well.

Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

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