Sans soleil

Chris Marker’s 1982 masterpiece, whose title translates as Sunless, is one of the key nonfiction films of our time–a personal and philosophical documentary that concentrates mainly on contemporary Tokyo, but also includes footage shot in Iceland, Guinea-Bissau, and San Francisco (where the filmmaker tracks down all of the original locations in Hitchcock’s Vertigo). Difficult to describe and almost impossible to summarize, this poetic journal of a major French filmmaker (La jetee, Le joli mai) radiates in all directions, exploring and reflecting upon many decades of experience all over the world. While Marker’s brilliance as a thinker and filmmaker has largely (and unfairly) been eclipsed by Godard’s, there is conceivably no film in the entire Godard canon that has as much to say about the present state of the world, and the wit and beauty of Marker’s highly original form of discourse leave a profound aftertaste. A film about subjectivity, death, photography, social custom, and consciousness itself, Sans soleil registers like a multidimensional poem found in a time capsule. (Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Sunday, February 7, 6:00 and 8:00, 443-3737)

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