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Chris Marker

Chris Marker

Happy 100th Birthday!

Born Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve on July 29, 1921 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, Chris Marker was a cinematic essayist and audio-visual poet.

After the Second World War, Marker began as a writer, publishing his first book in 1949. In the 1950s he turned to documentary filmmaking. Among his classic works from this period are Letter from Siberia, Cuba Si!, Le Joli Mai, and La Jetée. In the '60s and '70s he was actively involved with SLON, a filmmaking collective dedicated to activist production.

Marker reemerged to make films under his own name again in 1977 with Le Fond de l'air est rouge (English title: A Grin Without A Cat).

Creatively reworking his life as if editing one of his own films, Marker made films on other filmmakers during the '80s and '90s, including the renowned One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich. He also explored video and computer-generated imagery with a continued emphasis on the intersection between personal and political themes in films such as The Case of the Grinning Cat, which was released in English in 2006.

A pioneer auteur filmmaker and an original voice in world cinema for over 50 years, Marker passed away on his birthday, July 29, 2012. He is widely accepted to be one of the most innovative and influential filmmakers in modern cinema history.

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Chris Marker
  • Blue Helmet

    Directed by Chris Marker • Documentary • 1995 • 25 minutes

    For six months in 1994, François Crémieux served as a French UN peacekeeper near the Bosnian town of Bihać. He never saw combat, barely even experienced physical discomfort—but he was left deeply shaken by the experience.

    In BLUE HELMET...

  • Prime Time in the Camps

    Directed by Chris Marker • Documentary • 1993 • 28 minutes

    In Roska Camp in Slovenia, Bosnian refugees, deprived of their belongings, decide with the technical help of an N.G.O. to create a way to share information. They decide to make a television program, edited with equipment to make it look ...

  • Berliner Ballade

    Directed by Chris Marker • Documentary • 1990 • 29 minutes

    Some months after the fall of the Berlin wall, Chris Marker shot this passionate documentary, reflecting the state of the place and its spirit with remarkable acuity. It is a complete version of a film that was created for French televis...

  • Le Joli Mai

    Directed by Chris Marker, Pierre Lhomme • Documentary • 1963 • 145 minutes

    Filmed just after the March 1962 ceasefire between France and Algeria, LE JOLI MAI documents Paris during a turning point in French history: the first time since 1939 that France was not involved in any war.

    Part I, "A P...

  • Far from Vietnam

    Directed by Jean-Luc Godard, Joris Ivens, William Klein, Claude Lelouch, Chris Marker, and Alain Resnais • Documentary • 1967 • 115 minutes

    Initiated and edited by Chris Marker, FAR FROM VIETNAM is an epic 1967 collaboration between cinema greats Jean-Luc Godard, Joris Ivens, William Klein, Clau...

  • The Sixth Side of the Pentagon

    Directed by Chris Marker & François Reichenbach • Documentary • 1967 • 26 minutes

    "If the five sides of the pentagon appear impregnable, attack the sixth side."— Zen proverb

    On October 21, 1967, over 100,000 protestors gathered in Washington, D.C., for the Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam...

  • Be Seeing You

    Directed by Mario Marret, Chris Marker • Documentary • 1968 • 39 minutes

    From 1967 to 1976 Chris Marker was a member of SLON (the 'Company for the Launching of New Works'), a group based on the idea that cinema should not be thought of solely in terms of commerce. 1967 was also the year an impor...

  • Class of Struggle

    Directed by The Medvedkin Group • Documentary • 1969 • 37 minutes

    In 1967, Chris Marker and Mario Marret (under the aegis of SLON) produced A BIENTOT J'ESPERE , which documented a strike and factory occupation-the first in France since 1936-by textile workers at the Rhodiaceta textile plant in B...

  • The Embassy

    Directed by Chris Marker • Drama • 1973 • 21 minutes

    One of Chris Marker's few fiction films, THE EMBASSY shows political dissidents seeking refuge in a foreign embassy after a military coup d'état in an unidentified country. Over the next few days, more and more people fleeing the military assa...

  • The Owl's Legacy: Symposium, or Accepted Ideas

    Directed by Chris Marker • Documentary • 1989 • 26 minutes

    “The wake of our dreams is Greek” --George Steiner

    This episode sets the tone for the rest of the series, introducing the fundamental idea Marker and his participants explore: For centuries, we’ve used Greek civilization as a touchstone...

  • The Last Bolshevik

    Directed by Chris Marker • Documentary • 1998 • 116 minutes

    Based on the life and work of the Russian film director Alexander Medvedkin (1900-1989), THE LAST BOLSHEVIK is a tribute from one filmmaker to another. An archeological expedition into film history that reveals new cinematic treasures, ...

  • Chris Marker's Bestiary: Bullfight in Okinawa

    Directed by Chris Marker • Documentary • 1994 • 4 minutes

    Two enormous black bulls engage in a contest of brute force, egged on by their screaming handlers, as they butt heads and lock horns in an attempt to rout their opponent.

  • Chris Marker's Bestiary: Cat Listening to Music

    Directed by Chris Marker • Documentary • 1994 • 3 minutes

    Marker fans are familiar with the cartoon representation of Guillaume-en-Egypte, Marker's beloved pet cat, which has become the reclusive filmmaker's alter ego. In this charming short, Marker reveals the real-life Guillaume, stretched out...

  • Chris Marker's Bestiary: An Owl is an Owl is an Owl

    Directed by Chris Marker • Documentary • 1994 • 3 minutes

    A visit to an aviary yields a rhythmically edited series of close-ups of the rapidly rotating or intently staring feathered heads of a colorful variety of owls, accompanied by an ambient electronic soundtrack.

  • Chris Marker's Bestiary: Slon Tango

    Directed by Chris Marker • Documentary • 1994 • 4 minutes

    In this astonishing, sustained shot, an elephant in the Ljubjana Zoo ambles around its enclosure, performing syncopated dance steps to the accompaniment of Igor Stravinsky's "Tango."

  • Chris Marker's Bestiary: Zoo Piece

    Directed by Chris Marker • Documentary • 1994 • 3 minutes

    A leisurely-paced montage of animals, many of them confined in cages or enclosures-including seals, kangaroos, leopards, gorillas, wolves, monkeys, ostriches, and a sleeping rhinoceros.

  • Level Five

    Directed by Chris Marker • Drama • With Catherine Belkhodja, Kenji Tokitsu • 1996 • 106 minutes

    A woman (Laura), a computer, an invisible interlocutor: such is the setup on which LEVEL FIVE is built. She "inherits" a task: to finish writing a video game centered on the Battle of Okinawa—a traged...

  • A Grin Without a Cat

    Directed by Chris Marker • Documentary • 1977 • 178 minutes

    Newly restored! A GRIN WITHOUT A CAT is Chris Marker's epic film-essay on the worldwide political wars of the 60's and 70's: Vietnam, Bolivia, May '68, Prague, Chile, and the fate of the New Left.

    Released in France in 1978, restored a...

  • One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich

    Directed by Chris Marker • Documentary • With Andrei Tarkovsky • 2000 • 55 minutes

    ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF ANDREI ARSENEVICH is renowned French filmmaker Chris Marker's homage to his friend and colleague, Andrei Tarkovsky, who died in 1986. Widely regarded as one of the greatest filmmakers of the...

  • Remembrance of Things to Come

    Directed by Chris Marker, Yannick Bellon • Documentary • 2001 • 42 minutes

    Chris Marker's "cine-essay" is dense and demanding, a splendid reminder of the agility, poetry, and power of his nimble, capacious mind.

    Ostensibly a portrait of photographer Denise Bellon, focusing on the two decades be...

  • The Case of the Grinning Cat

    Directed by Chris Marker • Documentary • 2004 • 58 minutes

    In his newest film, French documentarian and cinema-essayist Chris Marker reflects on French and international politics, art and culture at the start of the new millennium. In November 2001, the filmmaker became intrigued, as did many ot...

  • The Owl's Legacy: Democracy, or City of Dreams

    Directed by Chris Marker • Documentary • 1989 • 26 minutes

    “Modern and ancient democracy have no genetic relationship” -- Mihalis Sakellariou

    An in-depth—but not overly dense—exploration of how Athenian democracy worked, and the key ways it differs from modern states using the word. Ancient Gre...

  • The Owl's Legacy: Olympics, or Imaginary Greece

    Directed by Chris Marker • Documentary • 1989 • 26 minutes

    “Every European era has formed its own image of Greece made up from its own imagination. There is so much self-projection and misinterpretation.” -- Cornelius Castoriades

    We begin with the personal. In interviews, classicists Manuela Sm...

  • The Owl's Legacy: Nostalgia, or The Impossible Return

    Directed by Chris Marker • Documentary • 1989 • 26 minutes

    “It’s the most Greek word I know. In a sense, it defines Greece.” --Vassilis Vassilikos

    Nostalgia is there right at the start of the Greek literary tradition. Odysseus, after a decade of fighting the Trojan War, must wander another deca...