Sans Soleil (1983) Film Response

Chris Marker’s  San Soleil is an atypical 1983 essay film. The film is told by an invisible character named Mr. Krasner and is voiced-over and narrated by a mysterious woman whom displays memorable footage from Japan and Africa to accompany the narration.

San Soleil is so incoherently bound to the terminologies of what makes an essay film that  it is the epitome of essay film but,  is also made outcast to it’s own genre. Many argue that San Soleil’s theme is about time and memory. Christa Bluminger even states that the film is “A memorial site in which the act of remembering questions memory itself”  but, as you continue to watch the film the shine of these two gems are made evident in the context of narration but are lack-luster throughout visual footage of the film. An primary example of this would be in the scene where there is a direct association made with Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. The scene portrays images of swirls and is  followed up by the voice over speaking about the function of remembering:

“I will have spent my life trying to understand the function of remembering, which is not the opposite of forgetting, but rather its lining. We do not remember, we rewrite memory much as history is rewritten. How can one remember thirst?”

Typical elements in essay film include a lack of centralized plot and a grand concoction of documentary and fiction genres in which Chris Marker embraced. But there are other important elements that make an essay film such as a main theme or the filmmaker’s argument however, neither seem to be made appropriate in San Soleil due to the discrepancy between narration and visual aside.

Rejecting Bluminger’s statement I believe Sans Soleil is not a film but, an abstract piece of art set in motion. Perhaps the purpose of Sans Soleil is not to discover the theme behind it but to discover the viewer’s reaction towards it.

Works Cited:

Montero, David. “Queens College: Off-campus Access to E-Journals & Reference Databases.” CUNY Office of Library Services Homepage. Web. 02 Apr. 2011. <>.

“Sans Soleil, Chris Marker’s Essay Film Masterpiece.” Documentary Films Playing in the DC Region – Doc Roundup. Web. 02 Apr. 2011. <>.

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About Ashley Bryant

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