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La Jetée / Sans Soleil

La Jetee / Sans Soleil“Quirky, thought-provoking and
  entertaining, the work of cinematic
  essayist and audio-visual poet
  Chris Marker is distinctive in its
  presentation and is brought to life
  with compelling narrative — as
  demonstrated by three very different
  films now available on DVD and
  EST: La Jetée, Sans Soleil and Level

ONE OF THE MOST INNOVATIVE FILMMAKERS to emerge during the post-war era, cinematic essayist and audio-visual poet Chris Marker was born Christian Francois Bouche-Villeneuve on 29 July 1921, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France.

Working primarily in the arena of non-fiction, the intensely private and enigmatic Marker rejected conventional narrative techniques, instead staking out a deeply political terrain defined by the use of still images, atmospheric soundtracks and literate commentary.

After establishing himself as a writer and critic, Marker created his first short feature Olympia 52 in 1952. His first, widely-acclaimed, work was Les Statues Meurent Aussi, filmed in 1953 with the assistance of frequent collaborator Alain Resnais.

Marker is best-known not for a documentary, but for a work of science fiction. His 1962 masterpiece La Jetée is a short film of just 30 minutes and consists almost entirely of black-and-white still images and voice-over narration.

World War III devastates Earth. Paris is in ruins after the cataclysmic event and Memory becomes mankind's only hope for survival. Haunted by a childhood memory of a woman being murdered, a prisoner becomes an experiment for those looking for a way forward.

Travelling through time to the past, he meets the woman and speaks with her and she refers to him as "ghost". He is then transported to the future where he finds that Man has survived and also travels through time.

Still obsessed with the woman, he asks the people of the future to send him back to the past; to the time on the pier at the Paris airport where he saw the woman just before her death. He has to face the fact that none can escape time or their destiny.

La Jetée has been described as "a strangely wonderful short film with many memorable images" and this clever and captivating short film was the inspiration for Terry Gilliam's 1995 feature film Twelve Monkeys.

La Jetée was Written and Directed by Chris Marker and stars Étienne Becker, Jean Négroni and Hélène Chatelain. The film was the Winner of Jean Vigo Prize 1963; Winner of GIFF WIFF Prize 1963 and Winner of Grand Prize at Trieste Science-Fiction Festival 1963. Running Time: 27 Minutes | French Audio | English Subtitles | B&W | Catalogue Number: OPTD2109 | Certificate: PG | RRP: £15.99.

"La Jetée… Clever and captivating" — Maggie Woods, MotorBar

DURING THE 1980s Marker's work became increasingly dominated by developing technology. Always the innovator, he worked much more on video, also experimenting with television, computers and other multimedia outlets.

In 1982, he wrote and directed the superb Sans Soleil, a wry and complex global travelogue inspired by a series of letters which has been acclaimed as one of his best works.

Indeed, Sans Soleil is fascinating stuff. A cameraman travels the world, writing letters analysing the many places he has visited. The woman he writes to voices his thoughts as he visits Japan, Guinea-Bissau, Iceland, San Francisco and Hitchock's Vertigo. He meets the people, studies their cultures and enjoys their festivals, films and galleries.

This is a colourful, visual journey introducing places and people from an unusual angle with an exceptional narrative. Sans Soleil is a stylish meditation on time and memory expressed in both words and imagery. Innovative, stunning visuals and outstanding editing. Some violent content with brief images of Japanese horror films, but Sans Soleil is a magical voyage of discovery.

Directed by Chris Marker, San Soleil was filmed in 1983 and stars Florence Delay, Arielle Dombasle and Riyoko Ikeda. It was the Winner of the BFI Awards 1983. Running Time: 99 Minutes | French Audio | English Subtitles | Catalogue Number: OPTD2109 | Certificate: PG/15 | RRP: £15.99.

"Sans Soleil is fascinating stuff… a magical voyage of discovery" — Maggie Woods, MotorBar

CHRIS MARKER RETURNED TO FEATURE FILM-MAKING in 1997 with Level Five, which featured French computer programmer Laura tackling a challenging video game while researching World War II and the bloody battle of Okinawa the last pre-nuclear face-off between the US and Japan.

Interviews with Japanese experts and witnesses, including filmmaker Nagisha Oshima, cause Laura to reflect deeply on her own life and humankind. Will she be able to surpass Level 5? A fascinating humanistic reflection on war, memory and history starring Catherine Belkhodja, Kenji Tokitsu and Nagisa Oshima.

We did not review this film but it is also out to own on DVD and EST on 22 August 2011. Level Five Running Time: 105 Minutes | French Audio | English Subtitles | Catalogue Number: OPTD2114 | Certificate: 12 | RRP: £15.99.