Sans Soleil

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Sans Soleil

Criterion Collection DVD packaged with La Jetée
Directed by Chris Marker
Written by Chris Marker (as Sandor Krasna)
Narrated by Florence Delay (French version)
Riyoko Ikeda (Japanese version)
Charlotte Kerr (German version)
Alexandra Stewart (English version)
Music by Chris Marker (as Michel Krasna)
Cinematography Chris Marker (as Sandor Krasna)
Editing by Chris Marker
Distributed by Argos Films
Release date(s) 1983
Running time 100 min.
Country France
Language French

Sans Soleil (Sunless in English) is a 1983 film by French director Chris Marker. The title is from the song cycle Sunless by Modest Mussorgsky. Sans Soleil is a meditation on the nature of human memory and the inability to recall the context and nuances of memory and as a result, how the perception of personal and global histories are affected.


[edit] Plot

Stretching the genre of documentary, this experimental essay-film is a rich composition of thoughts, images and scenes, mainly from Japan and Guinea-Bissau, "two extreme poles of survival". Some other scenes were filmed in Iceland, Paris, and San Francisco. A female narrator reads from letters supposedly sent to her by the (fictitious) cameraman Sandor Krasna. Sans Soleil is often labeled as a documentary or travelogue, however it contains fictional elements and moves from one location to another without regard to a location or character-based narrative.

[edit] Introductory quotations

The original French version of Sans Soleil opens with the following quotation by Jean Racine from his tragedy Bajazet (1672):

"L'Éloignement des pays répare en quelque sorte la trop grande proximité des temps." (The distance between countries compensates somewhat for the excessive closeness of time.)

Marker replaced this quote with the following one by T. S. Eliot from Ash Wednesday (1930) for the English version of the film:

"Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place".[1]

[edit] Production

Sans Soleil contains some stock footage, clips from Japanese film and television, and a few excerpts from other films. The original documentary footage was filmed by Marker with a 16mm Beaulieu silent film camera in conjunction with a non-sync portable tape recorder; the film contains no synchronous sound.[2]. Some of the stock footage shots were colorized with a Spectron video synthesiser.

[edit] Influences

The sequence in San Francisco references Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo and Marker's own earlier film La Jetée. Marker's use of the name "The Zone" to describe the space in which Hayao Yamaneko's (who is, in fact, Marker himself) images are transformed is an homage to Stalker, a film by Andrei Tarkovsky, as noted in one of the letters read in the film.

[edit] References

  1. ^ "Racine/Eliot" from booklet accompanying La Jetée/Sans Soleil DVD produced by Criterion
  2. ^ "Notes on Filmmaking", essay by Chris Marker in booklet accompanying La Jetée/Sans Soleil DVD produced by Criterion

[edit] External links

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