Film Response 3: Sans Soleil

Sans Soleil, directed by Chris Marker, is one of the most complex and confusing films I have ever seen. A unique meditation on time, memory and place… this nonlinear essay fuses the poetic narration of an unseen woman with kaleidoscopic images from Iceland, Cape Verde, Japan, San Francisco and Guinea-Bissau… and visits to locations from Alfred Hitchcock’s film Vertigo.The film begins with a scene of the narrators three children and shifts from scenes taken in Japan to San Francisco and other places while the narrator relates memories or thoughts about the scenes and she would often refer to a “he” when recalling a certain memory. One of the scenes that sort of ‘grabbed’ my attention was of the sleeping passengers and was followed by other scenes of what seemed to be their dreams. “In the voice-over to Sans Soleil (1982), Chris Marker offers a typically aphoristic remark: ‘We do not remember; we rewrite memory much as history is rewritten.’ The linkage between history and memory, their common contractedness, while ostensibly celebrating the formal languages of structural film–duration, framing, sound, and editing–engages the process of memory and delignification that sets in when history lets go of its protagonists, and their actions, objects, and characters become forgotten.” Several of the film’s scenes include petrified animals in the desert, dancing teenagers, sleeping commuters and abstract forms. In a way the theme of memory, in other words history, in this essayfilm is transformed into and preserved into poetry.

References: – Sans Soleil

Rattemeyer, Christian. “Tacita Dean: talks about Boots, 2003.” Artforum International 42.2 (2003): 134+. Fine Arts and Music Collection. Web. 3 Apr. 2011.

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