Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

Icelandic Happiness

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The image of happiness from Sans SoleilÁn sólar in Icelandic

This morning, I received an email from Quentin Darcq alerting me to the presence of a video from Icelandic television on vk.com called “Исландское TV о поиске трёх сестёр из “Без солнца” (which translates as “Icelandic TV about the search for three sisters from Sans Soleil“). The post's author is named Крис Маркер (“Chris Marker”). My thanks go out to Quentin for the reference and the translation that follows. News of this video originally appeared in the Chris Marker Facebook group, to the group's great excitement. Thanks also to Александр Бирюков for the original post and ensuing information. The translation has been lightly edited for clarity.

Interestingly, the reporter apparently did some deep research on Marker's own origins, which he undoubtedly would have found both irrelevant and irreverent, though he would no doubt have been interested in the fate of the children representing his profound image of happiness that introduces the film (along with a strip of black leader). There are photos of him as a child, photos of his family, and so on. So be it; the video itself is astonishing. We will reproduce some images, but steer clear of these particular images… The images cited from Sans Soleil itself are familiar, ingrained in our minds from repeated viewings of the essay film masterpiece.

At the end of May 2015, the Icelandic journalist Asgrimur Sverisson was initiated to search for the very three sisters used by Chris Marker in the film Sans Soleil. After the initial approach—launching a search through Facebook—did not produce results, it was decided to use TV as more traditional for such cases. The news about the search for three girls from the movie was shown in the news of the Icelandic TV channel ′′St= 2′′ in June [Note: the post is dated June 13th] and the next day one of the audience called the editorial office and told that he recognized these children.

Further was the case of technology: journalists brought certificates, found out specific names, real residence of the heroines of this story and contacted them. They turned out to be three sisters – Christbjorg Sigridur Christmundsdottir, born in 1954, Halldora ChristmundsDottir, born 1957 and Ashildur Christmundesdottir, 1959 In 1965, when Marker was shooting these shots, the sisters were 11, 8, and 6, respectively, living on the island of Heymay – the main island of the small archipelago near the southern tip of Iceland, where they were captured by a tireless director—a traveler.”

Александр Бирюков
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The volcanic terrain in Iceland represented in Sans Soleil in borrowed footage from Harun Tazieff
Chris Marker Iceland Kristbjorg Sigriour Kristmundsdottir Fra Patreksfiroi
A photo of the family captured in Sans Soleil

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Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory
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