Di­rec­tor laid down the marker for icon­o­clasts

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - News -

One of the odd­est, most in­flu­en­tial and most elu­sive film-mak­ers died ear­lier this week. Chris Marker, who was 92, trav­elled a route sim­i­lar to many of the di­rec­tors who forged the French New Wave, writ­ing for Cahier du Cinéma be­fore mak­ing a side­ways move into film di­rect­ing. But his work seemed to come from a dif­fer­ent planet to that oc­cu­pied by the gen­tle François Truf­faut, the rant­ing Jean-Luc Go­dard and the opaque Alain Res­nais.

Marker’s rep­u­ta­tion rests on two ex­tra­or­di­nary pieces: the quasi-doc­u­men­tary Sans Soleil (1983) and a strange, fu­tur­is­tic film, largely com­posed of stills, called La Jetée (1962).

Fit­tingly for such an el­lip­ti­cal, puz­zling di­rec­tor, lit­tle is known about his life. Even the place of his birth is in doubt. Marker claimed that he came into the world in Ulan Ba­tor. Oth­ers sug­gest that he emerged in an un­re­mark­able sub­urb of Paris.It seems as if Marker did work with the Re­sis­tance dur­ing the war. But his claim to have served in the US Air Force has been dis­missed as yet an­other piece of myth-mak­ing.

At any rate, the spooky La Jetée (in­spi­ra­tion for Terry Gil­liam’s 12 Mon­keys) and the se­duc­tive Sans Soleil re­main an influence on any film-maker who chooses to step out­side the well­trod­den path.

Chris Marker’s clas­sic short La Jetée

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