Sans Soleil (1983) is a film by Chris Marker. The film is about a diary of a fictional traveler, Sandor Krasna, being told by a female narrator. The film is formed by lots of short footages. They are either joined together by a calm and emotionless female voice or one footage is suddenly frozen and then jumps to the next one. Although this kind of editing seems to be made roughly, that is the way how we memorize things, how we recall memory and also how we think. It is always hard to recall the beginning of what happened at the very first time and why stopped memorizing an issue. As a result, the way that Marker edited this film fits its theme- memory, perfectly.
I often think that “dream” and “memory” are similar that they both have “pattern” or “repetition” and they are also affected by subconscious. When I was watching Sans Soleil, what addressed me that it involves “memory” is it continuously reappearing things like: cats, owls and monkeys and this is what “pattern” and “repetition” means here. The film also keeps showing something that share common themes, such as “sex” (the reproduction of monkeys, statues of pennies and vaginas and two people having sex) and “entertainment” (people dancing in festivals in Japan and Africa.) Moreover, I think this “pattern” is the outgrowth of the effect of subconscious. It is said that “we believe what we want to believe”, in other words, we can also choose to memorize things that we are interested in (subconsciously). I believe that Marker, as an observer, is trying to tell “a lot about human beings in their environment” (Ostor 1022) and his “personal reflection on the nature of memory” (Montero 108) through this film.
The reason why the essay film is an appropriate form for exploring the theme “memory” and “time” because the film involves a lot of randomly shot footages. In this way, the audiences would not focus on the content of those footages because each footage is a different story and is hardly linked to one and other. They would, contrarily, think what the film, as “mediation”, or the director is trying to express.
Montero, David. “Film also ages: time and images in Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil.” Studies in French Cinema. 6.2 (2006) : 107-115. Print.
Östör, Ákos. “Reviewed work(s): Sans Soleil by Chris Marker.” American Anthropologist 89.4 (1987) : 1022-1023. JSTOR. Web. 30 March 2011.