Sans Soleil can be generalized as an almost two-hour visual essay on memory, poetry, and imagery, based around Chris Marker’s travels around the world, focusing mostly on Japan and Africa. Sans Soleil is a mishmash of images and sound, it was after all shot with a 16mm silent camera and recorded asynchronously with a tape recorder . Marker travels to several locations around the world but fixates on Japan and the microscopic African nation of Guinea-Bisseau. From its opening moments, Sans Soleil breaks from any form of convention. A female narrator discusses ideas for a film and how it should open with narration over black leader; we realize, listening to the woman relate this to us over a black screen, that the hypothetical film is the one we’re actually watching. The travelogue, delivered to us through the filter of the narrator, becomes a meditation on the nature of memory and truth. “We rewrite memory much as history is rewritten,” he wrote to his friend, and Marker uses Sans Soleil to communicate, as best it can, the way certain memories stick with us, even if they first require a bit of adjusting to make them more memorable.
Mavor, Carol. “San Soleil & Chris Marker.” Art History 30.5 (2007): 738-56. EBSCO: Art Index Retrospective. Web. 02 Apr. 2011