The Political, The Essay Film, and The Avant Garde

In Chris Marker: Memories of the Future, Catherine Lupton stated how Chris Marker created his “new realm of image-making, with a sixteen-minute, two-screen video installation entitled Quand le suede a pris formes (When the Century Took Shape). Chris Marker started working with film in the late 1940s as a poet, novelist, and critic for the French journal Esprit through the 1990s. In his film La Joli mai, the work “consistently establishes a certain distance between dire tor and subject, maintain a formal line of questioning and keep interviewer and interviewee physically detached from each other (the interviewer may occasionally be heard, but he never appears in shot)”(pg 86). Marker has a unique way of recording interviews. He does not like the conventional method of recording interviews. Marker tends to be aloof. In his other film, La Jetee, Marker “distills the technical and experimental essence of cinema into a form and a story that unveil its mechanism and its power, but without in any sense depriving the spectator of their conventional pleasures in story-telling, fantasy, and the projected fulfillment of desire.” (pg.94)

In, Experimental Ethnography: The Work of Film in the Age of Video, Catherine Russell writes about Chris Marker’s film Sans Soleil. She states that the film is a ” film that recapitulates so many of the themes of experimental ethnography.. and is distinctly silent about the identity of its maker, who hides himself withing an intricate pattern of first-person pronouns.” (pg. 301). She also states that Marker’s invisibility, omniscience, ubiquity, and mobility make him similar to “belated traveler.” (pg. 301) San Soleil is a film that can mesmerize the viewer but can fail to understand that using ethnography imagery with electronic music can be disjointing to the viewer.

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