Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Experimental French filmmaker Chris Marker died a few days ago on his 91st birthday, 29 July. Though he made dozens of films – or film essays – he is most famous for his influential post-apocalyptic time travel cinepoem, La Jetée* (made in 1962), loosely remade by Terry Gilliam as 12 Monkeys (and films such as Inception sharing some common themes). Composed mainly of black and white still images, I remember watching La Jetée at the cinema for the first time many years ago and being mesmerized by it; in particular the only few seconds of moving footage: a woman waking up in bed, opening her eyes (apparently Marker could only borrow a moving film camera for one afternoon). The sudden few seconds of moving footage after all the still images struck me as the art house equivalent of the universe exploding in a blockbuster sci-fi film.
Notoriously private, where he was born remains a mystery and only a few photos of him exist; for publications requesting a picture of him he would supply a photo of a cat. Other notable films by Marker include Sans Soleil (which comes with La Jetée on DVD, a nice introduction to the man's work), AK, Les Astronautes (made with Walerian Borowczyk) and A Grin with a Cat.