A Grin Without A Cat

Chris Marker’s 179-minute video essay about revolutionary events between 1966 and 1977 is his own 1993 English adaptation for England’s Channel Four of an even longer worka film made in 1979 and known in French as Le Fond de l’Air Est Rouge. (The film’s original subtitle translates as Scenes From World War III1966-1977.) Among the subjects addressed are Vietnam, political battles throughout Europe, Asia, and South America, Che Guevara, Nixon, and Eisenstein’s Potemkin; the images are drawn mainly from rarely shown footage shot by others, chiefly outtakes from other documentaries. This is often thoughtful and informative, but it assumes a grasp of political struggles of the period that some American viewers won’t share. Marker’s poetic notations are generally quite effective and welcome when they appear (e.g., of May 1968: For France, it was the rude awakening of a sleepwalker crash-landing into history), but there are often long stretches between them. In French with subtitles. (JR)

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