The latest PlayList invites you to investigate the past, present and future through the remarkable reality tunnels detailed in the work of French film artist Chris Marker. Marker is due to celebrate his 87th birthday this year. If you recognise the name, it might be because Terry Gilliam’s popular 1995 thriller Twelve Monkeys borrowed a central conceit from Marker’s short 1962 masterpiece La Jetée. La Jetée (pictured) is composed almost entirely from still photographs, and tells a fractured love story of a beautiful woman and a troubled man sent back to the 20th century from the future to save the world from nuclear catastrophe.
It’s only one example of a lifetime of cutting edge experimental filmmaking which saw Marker engage in collaborations with fellow provocateurs like the great Walerian Borowcyk; their remarkable and weird 1959 film Les Astronauts needs to be seen to be believed.
Even without subtitles, Statues Also Die, Marker’s collaboration with Last Year in Marienbad’s Alain Resnais, displays a similar feeling for haunting, timeless images. And even when working with veteran French filmmaker Yannick Bellon in 2001, Marker offered up a typically dry account of photographer Denise Bellon with Remembrance of Things To Come.
If you’re beginning to get the hang of Marker’s unique use of cinema as a personal diary, working some 50 years before video-blogging became a popular means of self-expression, viewing his 1982 feature Sans Soleil is an obvious next step to understanding the potential of video-essays; check out a sequence depicting Marker’s visit to a temple in Tokyo consecrated to cats. No longer hard to find or expensive to buy, Marker’s films require only your time and patience to blow your mind.