Outtakes: Chris Marker

Chris Marker  

WHO is he?

French filmmaker, screenwriter, photographer and mixed-media artist who made over 60 short and feature-length films since the early fifties till his passing in 2012. Marker belonged to the Left Bank of the French New Wave. He was fiercely elusive, never gave any interviews and was rarely photographed. He spent his final years as an active participant in the multiplayer online game, Second Life.

WHAT are his films about?


Marker’s earliest films are deconstructive cinematic missives dispatched from various corners of the world while his subsequent leftist pictures — often collaborations — have dealt with the questions of French colonialism, the class struggle in Paris, Vietnam War and the Palestine-Israel conflict. His later films, often elaborate looks at the disappearance of a certain kind of idealism from Europe, though still ironic and humorous, are more detached and meditative. Marker comes across as a flaneur in these works — a timeless, placeless globetrotter curiously witnessing the games of history.


Marker pioneered the Film Essay form — a documentary genre which forgoes talking head interviews and other conventional documentary film techniques for a more complex form of cinematic assemblage. In these essays, the audio has little to do with the video track and they are instead associated through an overarching essayistic line of argumentation, either with voiceover or without. Marker’s documentary works are part travelogues, part filmic letters and part impressionistic vignettes, while his work outside of film has ventured into the digital realm of interactive multimedia, video games and YouTube.

WHY is he of interest?

Among the five or ten most important filmmakers of all time, Marker produced a body of work whose artistic, thematic and philosophic range has few parallels in world cinema. His contribution to film aesthetic through his unique experiments and to film history through his rediscovery of Aleksandr Medvedkin and his Cine-Train is only a part of the reason to cherish the output of this Invisible Man of Cinema.

WHERE to discover him?

Arguably the greatest film ever made, the 26-minute The Pier (1962) unfolds in a post-apocalyptic world in which humanity is forced to go underground and send envoys across time to search for means of survival. Composed almost entirely of still photographs, this heart-breaking, mind-bending, immensely sensual masterwork is a veritable testament to the visceral power of the moving image, but also a wrenching portrait of unattainable love and inescapable death.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 19, 2021 11:31:17 AM |

Next Story