PRINT January 2013

James Quandt

Chris Marker, Sans Soleil, 1983, 16 mm transferred to 35 mm, color and black-and-white, sound, 103 minutes.


PLUCK ANY APERÇU from the Montaigne-like musings of Chris Marker and it soon effloresces into manifold meanings. “A hiker walking in a straight line is always sure to get lost in the forest,” the narrator observes in Letter from Siberia (1957), a warning, perhaps, to the unwary who attempt to traverse his labyrinths of spiraling time and unreliable memory. “I write to you from a far-off country”: That film’s opening line establishes the epistolary, globe-hopping mode of Marker’s cinema, though every distant land represented in his films—Iceland, Cuba, China, Guinea-Bissau, and (most often) Japan—inevitably comes to reside on the same metaphoric continent, the far-flung made adjacent by the artist’s memory.

Marker’s Proustian pronouncement “I claim, for the image, the humility and the powers of a madeleine” suggests the primacy of time and remembrance for the

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