I have documented many times both here and on the Funhouse TV series my fascination with, and love for, the work of Chris Marker. On this day, the 100th anniversary of his birth, I can only say once again that the discovery of the short sci-fi romance (one of the greatest love stories ever) “La Jetée” (1962) when I was in college changed my life. Everything that came after that — seeing Marker’s brilliant documentaries, his film “essay” meditations on cultures, war, the passage of time and memory, and even his cute and silly videos about animals — made me respect and love the man and his work even more.
Currently, we are lucky to have his work readily available on disc and streaming. Icarus Films has made a practice of putting out all of his major features, there’s a Criterion release of his two most famous films (“La Jetée” and Sans Soleil), and his shorts and “lost” features (including two he suppressed because he fell out of love with countries he formerly celebrated, thanks to their oppressive policies) are tucked away on YouTube, for those who have the curiosity and want to see how this master storyteller and cameraman “framed” the world around him.
To become acquainted with his work, one must first see “La Jetée.” Everyone should see “La Jetée” — it is a perfect work, a curio in that it is a fiction film by an artist who produced scant fiction, a superb montage of photographs by a master filmmaker, and a sublime work on the strength and importance of memory by a man who now himself is a memory (but a strong one).
Here is the film with English subtitles: