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film

Chris Marker

AS HE CLOSES the preface to his Philosophy of Right, Hegel tells us, “When philosophy paints its grey in grey, one form of life has become old, and by means of grey it cannot be rejuvenated, but only known. The owl of Minerva, takes its flight only when the shades of night are gathering.” For Hegel, this was a statement of the limitations of philosophy. For the Situationists and for leftist intellectuals of postwar France, it became a favored point of reference—though neither acquiesced to the submission of the individual to the state or to the ineluctable force of history that Hegel coded into it.

Chris Marker, one of the most incisive critical voices of postwar French cinema, has brought the owl of Minerva into the glare of noon in service to a project he likens to Benjamin’s encyclopedic and unfinished Passagenwerk. In this project, called OWLS AT NOON, Marker adopts Benjamin’s method

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