Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

Happy 90th Birthday Chris Marker!


As has become a mini-tradition, we would like to extend a very happy birthday to Chris Marker (a day belated).

Marker is now 90 years old and continues to intrigue and inspire, gather new interest among younger generations, and appear on the cultural radar globally—most recently with Les Rencontres d'Arles' annual photography exhibition, the release of One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich on DVD, and the Passengers exhibition in New York at the Peter Blum Gallery.

There is so much to say, so much depth and inspiration in this life/work, that somehow the words fail to adequately express our gratitude.

So, we leave it to you, in all your languages, from all your countries… We would again appreciate it if readers could add their birthday wishes and reflections in the comments to this post!

Chris Marker Guillaume Second Life Happy Birthday

As one of our most long-lasting correspondents  just wrote us of some recognitions:

In USA's west coast:

In France (Arles):

In Germany:

1hr Radio Essay on Chris Marker

(Bayern2 Nachtstudio, Forum Essay 2011, May 17 2011, 20.30 – 21.30) “Wenn ich vier Dromedare hätte” Porträt des Filmessayisten Chris Marker Von Ulrike Haage Podcast (54MB) [link updated 8/1/12 to site of Ulrike Haage]

Another reader says in an email entitled “almost century man”: “ANYBODY NOTICED THAT CHRIS MARKER ACTUALLY REACHED 90 TODAY?” Another commment on a previous post: “I am writing on July 29th, 2011. Chris Marker is 90 today. Bon anniversaire, and long may he live.”

What do you have to say? Feel free to use this space as a canvas of your thoughts on how Marker has touched your life.


  • Just received this wonderful email from Guillermo García:

    I just wanted to write a couple of words about your anniversary question, how has Marker touched your life; well, he has actually been crucial in my life since I found his work by pure chance when I saw, as everyone else, La Jetée. Today I have more than 45 of his films, I learnt french to understand them, I wrote articles and I’ve analyzed his films in academic congresses, but most of all, I just finished my first film-essay, that wouldn’t exist without him. I always recorded video in an intuitive way, without knowing exactly what to do with those images I gathered, and I just kept on compiling images and images. With Marker I really understood what can be done with those images that are important to you for any reason (or what exactly I wanted to do with them), and how exciting and challenging it could be, and I started doing it. The decisive point for starting my first film was that sentence by Marker saying that today we have the tools to do films in the same way a painter work, without spending too much money. We only have to go out and do it, completing Astruc’s idea. Now I know I will keep on doing film-essays the rest of my life. So I’ll thank Marker for the rest of my life. Alors, très bon 90 anniversaire, Chris; visiting the New York exhibition I just couldn’t believe you’re actually 90.

  • i’ve just found Mr Marker. i live in new zealand and a few years ago, in my early 50’s, when my second child left home i stepped aside from a long career in nursing and went back to university to do postgraduate study in digital media. i wasn’t sure why at the start as it would have been more logical to have studied something in the sciences but i followed my intuition, a passion and long time interest in taking pictures, filming anything i could and archiving memories in this way. it seemed important. i used to say to my writer husband “some people write books to tell stories but i am compelled to tell stories with pictures” and so the journey began. in 2012 i will complete my masters specialising in essay film. i am making my first ever formal short film about life growing up in post war & post colonial new zealand having being born and raised jammed between 2 cultures, a british father disembarking from the navy onto the shores of nz at the end of the war, and my mother, a native maori woman afflicted by her racial and cultural hybridity. my search for mentors in this, dare i say, “genre” of film has led me to Chris Marker, Agnes Varda, Ross McElwee, the Maysle brothers and a couple of others who look to be responsible for liberating my story from myself, prising it from my somewhat reluctant memory and giving me the confidence to take responsibility for it once it see’s the light of day. i am so grateful to artists such as Chris, as though his surname is prophetic, indeed a Marker for the rest of us trailing after him. i hope he lives for a long time yet … happy birthday to one of films legends.

  • Wonderful comment, thanks much. Sounds like a great project. When I think of essay film, I also think of a few other filmmakers: Trinh T. Minh-ha, Hartmut Bitomski, Harun Farocki, Robert Kramer and Jem Cohen. Perhaps you will encounter some of their films in your masters work… Thanks again!

Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory
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