Chris Marker, one of the world’s greatest living filmmakers, died today. Best known for his science fiction short La Jetée, in my view the greatest science fiction film ever made*, Marker really should be known as an experimental creator of political films, most notably his opus, Grin Without A Cat, his lengthy 1977 documentary about the hope and collapse of the revolutionary European left in the late 60s and early 70s. What I love about Marker, and I feel this even more strongly about Agnes Varda, is his ability to experiment while creating politically and socially relevant film. He could subvert and play with narrative while not abandoning it entirely. I contrast this with so much experimental American film, which too often tends towards exercises in imagery without even a pretense of storytelling (the descendants of Stan Brakhage). Or if the filmmaker does try to tell a story, the person is afraid to break away from early 21st century faux-ironic posturing and craft a story that not only fits the experiment but moves it forward (basically this is how I sum up the whole mumblecore thing).
A great loss.
* Note that I actually dislike science fiction as a genre. Put something in space, the future or with a monster and I am basically disinterested. This is probably why my two favorite science fiction films are La Jetee and Solaris. Solaris may be in space but basically nothing happens at the same time that everything happens. Anyway, take my science fiction opinions with a grain of salt. And this is real salt that is on Earth. Not some phony space salt.
…[SL] Kenny has a great Marker quote about Vertigo. I will also add that I think Sans Soleil is almost as great as La Jetee.
…[EL] Reading that Marker quote on Vertigo Scott references, I not only think that sums up so much about Marker himself, but it reminds me that his generation of French intellectuals really did some amazing film criticism.