Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

MoMA To Save and Project Joli Mai


New York’s Museum of Modern Art will show restored versions of both Loin de Vietnam and—wonderful news indeed—the incomparable Le Joli mai, in their upcoming To Save and Project international film preservation festival, which showcases re-releases of recently restored cinematic masterpieces.

poster of le joli mai a film by chris marker and pierre lhomme
Chris Marker & Pierre Lhomme, Le Joli Mai

Le Joli Mai (Chris Marker, Pierre Lhomme, 1963, 163 min.) will screen Saturday, November 14, 2009, at 1:30 p.m., while Loin de Vietnam will screen Friday, November 13, 2009, at 5:00 p.m. and Saturday, November 14, 2009, at 1:30 p.m.

MoMA’s site offers the following cogent synopsis of this pioneering work in the then nascent genre of so-called cinéma vérité (not a term we can see Marker embracing then or now, probably). In fact, Marker is known for the variation “ciné-ma-vérité”, foregrounding the personal and provisional approach to any claims to ‘truth’ in the documentary realm.

Le Joli mai
1963. France. Chris Marker, Pierre Lhomme. 163 min.
Saturday, November 14, 2009, 1:30 p.m.
Theater 1 (The Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 1)

1963. France. Directed by Chris Marker, Pierre Lhomme. Marker had recently made essay films about contemporary Israel and Cuba—films with a decidedly revolutionary bent—when in the spring of 1962 he decided, for the first time, to take the pulse of his own country. With the French-Algerian War coming to a bitter and brutal end, Marker joined now-legendary cameraman Pierre Lhomme in conducting hours of interviews on the streets of Paris. The result is a fascinating political and social document, a snapshot of French citizens reflecting on the meaning of happiness, whether personal or collective, even as they confess anxiety about the future of their families and their nation. Restored by the Archives françaises du film du CNC, this original French release version features voiceover narration by Yves Montand, through which Marker offers his own wry and poignant commentary—as he does with some cleverly revealing interpolations of image and sound—and music by Michel Legrand. Courtesy Sofracima. In French; English subtitles. 163 min

For more information, see the New York Times article Prints That Shine Anew: Cassavetes, Bergman and More at MoMA and, at the MoMA site, To Save and Project: The Seventh MoMA International Festival of Film Preservation. The festival runs October 24, 2009 through November 16, 2009.

Stream Joli Mai via Amazon


Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory
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