Tuesday, July 31, 2012

RIP Chris Marker, 1921-2012

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.

*The film has been partly ruined by an ex, who tends to hold no reverence for art house films. She breezed past whilst I was watching it on DVD, and asked why the man (pictured above) had a bra over his eyes. She's also made similar insensitive – but quite amusing – comments about other art house films.

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