Sans Soleil is one of the key films by renowned filmmaker Chris Marker. Footage taken from Marker’s own solitary pilgrimages through Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, San Francisco, Iceland, and Japan is combined with some found and borrowed films that are collaged asynchronously and superimposed with voice-over narration incessantly crossed between the present and past tense. In a low and aloof female voice, the first-person narrator recounts “her” observations and speculations on sociological or political concerns, embedded in the experience of banal scenes of the everyday in different and remote parts of the world. Concurrently she recalls letters from her friend or what he told her, often saying, “he wrote me that…,” “he told me that…” as if trying to invoke his presence. Deliberation on the function of memorY—inseparable from or rather “in line with” forgetting—and its role in understanding the world is central to the film. As the narrator exclaims, “Who remembers all that? History throws its empty bottles out the window,” we find forgotten or unseen wars, oppression, suffering, and struggles remembered and re-written as our history.
Chris Marker, born 1921, lives and works in Paris. Selected films: Chats perchés, 2004; Le souvenir d’un avenir, 2001; Andrei Tarkovski, 2000; Immemory, interactive multi-media CD-ROM, 1998; Le tombeau d’Alexandre, 1992.