I’m late to the countless tributes that have already been posted about French filmmaker, Chris Marker, the cine-essayist behind La jetée and Sans Soleil, as well as dozens of other films, but given Marker’s role in shaping my own interests in film and digital media, I’d like to add to those who’ve emphasized Marker’s insightful reflections on movies, history, and memory. I’d initially become engaged by Marker when I was thinking through Anne Friedberg’s discussion of cinema as a “time machine” when I stumbled across La jetée, almost by accident, reading about it (I think) in an issue of Entertainment Weekly before tracking it down. Twelve Monkeys came out around the same time–I think I saw Gilliam’s film first–and questions about memory, remaking the (cinematic) past, and narrative–immediately became more meaningful.
A few months later, I discovered that the same video store had a copy of Sans Soleil. During the opening sequence, in which Marker shows a group of Icelandic children and describes his attempts to link it to another image, I was immediately hooked–even pausing my VCR to gasp at the ideas he was exploring. Many years later, I attempted to work through some of the questions Marker introduced for me in an essay published in Rhizomes. It’s a youthful essay in that I think it tries to hard to attach Marker to current critical theory, but what I think is implied throughout the essay is my own fascination with Marker’s meditation on the possibilities of cinema.