Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

Loin de Vietnam: Filmnotes @ PFA


Far from Vietnam Jean-Luc Godard, Joris Ivens, William Klein, Claude Lelouch, Chris Marker, Alain Resnais, Agnès Varda (France, 1967).

Loin de VietnamRarely shown in its entirety, Far from Vietnam is a unique collaboration by seven noted directors that, incredibly, looks like a unified work. Much of the credit for this goes to Chris Marker, who put it all together. But there was also a team spirit created by the situation in Vietnam that led the artists to want to speak out, directly and boldly, in a group work. Resnais: “Far from Vietnam is a film of question marks, of questions we ask ourselves as often perhaps as you. Agnes VardaIt’s for that reason that we put them on the screen: after all, it is as natural for filmmakers to speak on a white canvas as in a cafe.” Klein: “On the corner of 42nd Street and 8th Avenue in New York, a guy is reciting a poem consisting of the syllables na-palm. And no one knows what napalm is. It showed me how blind people become to something they hear referred to all day long. So, we decided to do something a little like Picasso confronted by the bombing of Guernica.” The result is a provocative treatment of footage shot in Vietnam, France, the U.S., and Cuba.

Commentary by Jean Lecouture. (120 mins, In French with English subtitles, B&W/Color, 35mm)


  • Rarely shown in its entirety ? Rarely shown, simply. Invisible film. I hope to see it a day. I wait desperately at the crossroads of the lost movies. Maybe this film exists only by a title.

  • Your comment mixed two songs in my head all of a sudden: Robert Johnson’s Crossroad Blues and Coil’s Lost Rivers of London. And then I thought about Henri Langlois and how he opened the gates at the crossroads of lost movies and made them visible, for a time. I read in his biography that the very act of showing the old nitrate films on a regular basis extended their lives. From Lost Rivers of London:

    I have sat there and seen the winter days finish their short-spanned lives; and all the globes of light — crimson, emerald, and pallid yellow — start, one by one, out of the russet fog that creeps up the river.

Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

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