Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

Icarus Releases, Wexner Debuts Grin Without a Cat DVD


Last Updated on August 17, 2019 by bricoleur

Icarus Releases Grin Without a Cat

A GRIN WITHOUT A CAT is Chris Marker’s epic film-essay on the worldwide political wars of the 60’s and 70’s: Vietnam, Bolivia, May ’68, Prague, Chile, and the fate of the New Left.

Released in France in 1978, restored and “re-actualized” by Marker fifteen years later (after the fall of the Soviet Union), we are proud to release the film now for the first time in the United States.

Described by Marker as “scenes of the Third World War,” the film (the original French title is virtually untranslatable) is divided into two parts, each weaving together two strands:

Icarus Films
Part 1: Fragile Hands
  • From Vietnam to Che’s death
  • May 1968 and all that
Part 2: Severed Hands
  • From Spring in Prague to the Common Program of Government in France
  • From Chile to — to what?

Wexner Center Store Exclusive

The Wex has a special, long term relationship with French filmmaker Chris Marker, and the Wexner Center Store is, for a limited time, the exclusive outlet for the DVD release of A Grin Without a Cat, Marker’s magnum opus—a three-hour overview of the political turmoil around the world during the ’60s and ’70s. On the occasion of its release, director of media arts Bill Horrigan offers his thoughts.


The Struggle for Memory

A GRIN WITHOUT A CAT (its title refers to Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat) is Marker’s magnum opus: a three-hour overview of the worldwide political upheavals during the Sixties and Seventies.

Marker interweaves footage from the Vietnam War and the antiwar protests in the U.S., May 68 in Paris, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, Salvador Allende and the coup in Chile, Che Guevara, and Regis Debray in Bolivia, the Shah of Iran, Fidel Castro, et alia.

Official images, film clips, news coverage trims, and neglected reels comprise the basic materials of this major fresco, which concludes with the following credit: “The true authors of this film are the countless cameramen, technical operators, witnesses, and activists whose work is constantly pitted against that of governments, who would like us to have no memory.”

Wexner Center or the Arts Store — Chris Marker

Bill Horrigan on Chris Marker [excerpt]

One of the unexpected pleasures of Icarus’s DVD of Chris Marker’s Grin Without A Cat comes from reading the essay Marker produced for the disk’s accompanying booklet. Writing in May, 2008, Marker looks back upon the political turmoil of the 1960s that GRIN is grounded in, averring that it’s 1967 (rather than 1968) that ought to be regarded as seminal. […]

Reading this essay reminded me of how relatively little of Marker’s writing is available in English, the most glaring gaps being the justly legendary volumes of Commentaires, the script of the original version of Le Fond De L’Air Est Rouge (Grin’s French title), and the countless shorter articles he’s been writing for over five decades now, no end in sight. Fragments of these materials appear within Marker’s CD-ROM, Immemory (principally, the text from his book on Korea, Coreennes), but vastly more awaits translation.

Bill Horrigan, quoted on Wexblog

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Chris Marker Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory

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