Sans soleil

Synopsis: "He wrote me...." A woman narrates the thoughts of a world traveler, meditations on time and memory expressed in words and images from places as far-flung as Japan, Guinea-Bissau, Iceland, and San Francisco.
Director(s): Chris Marker
Production: Criterion Collection
  4 wins.
Rotten Tomatoes:
100 min

The first image he told me about

was of three children on a road in Iceland, in 1965.

He said that for him it was the image of happiness

and also that he had tried several times to link it

to other images, but it never worked.

He wrote me:
one day I'll have to put

it all alone at the beginning of a film

with a long piece of black leader;

if they don't see happiness in the picture,

at least they'll see the black.

He wrote:
I'm just back from Hokkaido,

the Northern Island.

Rich and hurried Japanese take the plane,

others take the ferry:

waiting, immobility, snatches of sleep.

Curiously all of that makes me think of a past or future war:

night trains, air raids, fallout shelters, small fragments

of war enshrined in everyday life.

He liked the fragility of those moments

suspended in time.

Those memories whose only function it being

to leave behind nothing but memories.

He wrote:
I've been round the world several times

and now only banality still interests me.

On this trip I've tracked it with

the relentlessness of a bounty hunter.

At dawn we'll be in Tokyo.

He used to write me from Africa.

He contrasted African time to European time,

and also to Asian time.

He said that in the 19th century mankind

had come to terms with space,

and that the great question of the 20th was

the coexistence of different concepts of time.

By the way, did you know that there are emus

in the le de France?

He wrote me that in the Bijags Islands

it's the young girls who choose their fiances.

He wrote me that in the suburbs of Tokyo

there is a temple consecrated to cats.

I wish I could convey to you the simplicity

the lack of affectation

of this couple who had come to place

an inscribed wooden slat in the cat cemetery

so their cat Tora would be protected.

No she wasn't dead, only run away.

But on the day of her death no one

would know how to pray for her,

how to intercede with death so that

he would call her by her right name.

So they had to come there,

both of them, under the rain,

to perform the rite that would repair

the web of time where it had been broken.

He wrote me:
I will have spent my life trying to

understand the function of remembering,

which is not the opposite of forgetting,

but rather its lining.

We do not remember, we rewrite memory

much as history is rewritten.

How can one remember thirst?

He didn't like to dwell on poverty,

but in everything he wanted to show

there were also the 4-Fs of the Japanese model.

A world full of bums, of lumpens,

of outcasts, of Koreans.

Too broke to afford drugs,

they'd get drunk on beer, on fermented milk.

This morning in Namidabashi, twenty minutes

from the glories of the center city,

a character took his revenge on society

by directing traffic at the crossroads.

Luxury for them would be one of those large bottles of sake

that are poured over tombs on the day of the dead.

I paid for a round in a bar in Namidabashi.

It's the kind of place that allows people

to stare at each other with equality;

the threshold below which every man is

as good as any otherand knows it.

He told me about the Jetty on Fogo,

in the Cape Verde islands.

How long have they been there waiting for the boat,

patient as pebbles but ready to jump?

They are a people of wanderers,

of navigators, of world travelers.

They fashioned themselves through cross-breeding here on these rocks

that the Portuguese used as a marshaling yard for their colonies.

A people of nothing, a people of emptiness, a vertical people.

Frankly, have you ever heard of anything stupider than to say to people

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Chris Marker

Chris Marker (French: [maʁkɛʁ]; 29 July 1921 – 29 July 2012) was a French writer, photographer, documentary film director, multimedia artist and film essayist. His best known films are La Jetée (1962), Le Joli Mai (1963), A Grin Without a Cat (1977) and Sans Soleil (1983). Marker is often associated with the Left Bank Cinema movement that occurred in the late 1950s and included such other filmmakers as Alain Resnais, Agnès Varda, Henri Colpi and Armand Gatti. His friend and sometime collaborator Alain Resnais called him "the prototype of the twenty-first-century man." Film theorist Roy Armes has said of him: "Marker is unclassifiable because he is unique...The French Cinema has its dramatists and its poets, its technicians, and its autobiographers, but only has one true essayist: Chris Marker." more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Sans soleil" STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 22 Oct. 2020. <>.

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