La Jetee/Sans Soleil
La Jetee/Sans Soleil (Criterion Collection)
Director Chris Marker emerged around the time of the New Wave but, unlike Truffaut or Godard, never became a household name. His reputation among cineastes rests with his famous 1962 sci-fi short La Jetée and a series of documentaries, including 1983’s Sans Soleil. The 28-minute La Jetée is composed almost entirely of black-and-white stills, voice-over, and spacey music. Yet its haunting portrayal of a WWIII-annihilated Paris — and a time-traveling survivor who falls for a woman in the past — has been stealthily influential, inspiring David Bowie’s ”Jump They Say” video and Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys. The longer, meandering Sans Soleil will either enthrall you or put you to sleep. Combining his own footage with that of other filmmakers, Marker muses on Japanese culture, African politics, Pac-Man, and Hitchcock’s Vertigo, intertwining the sumptuous (women in kimonos) with the unsettling (a giraffe shot dead and ripped into by vultures). As befits such a mysterious director, the extras in Criterion’s set are spare (interviews, docs). No matter, the movies are exhilarating enough.