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535 Ratings

Level Five

Directed by Chris Marker
France, 1997
Documentary, Romance


The French computer programmer Laura inherits the task of making a computer game of the Battle of Okinawa in Japan during World War 2. She searches the Internet for information on the battle, and interviews Japanese experts and witnesses.

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Level Five Directed by Chris Marker
…That this, yet another of Marker’s poetic testaments about attempting to process (by remembering and forgetting) the 20th century, was made when the century was almost over and when cyberspace was already making its claim on this project, must have made Marker’s mission even more urgent. But like Sans soleil, this is a film that keeps getting more contemporary every time I watch it, and in some ways it’s even more personal. (For one thing, Marker’s hands and voice are often present.)
December 19, 2014
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Level Five" was shot on video and bumped up to 35 millimeter, which is how I first saw it in competition at the 1996 Berlin Film Festival. Revisited on a monitor nearly two decades later, it’s more impressive and less overweening. The computer graphics are touchingly passé rather than irritatingly au courant; Ms. Belkhodja (an actress, an artist and then something of a TV personality) seems less archly smug than tragically chic. And the movie is also remarkably prophetic.
November 06, 2014
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Gluing it all together is the poignant presence of Belkodjha, who really gives an outstanding webcam performance, even when asked by her director to whimper to an electronic parrot. When emerging from Marker’s brainy historical exorcisms, the mere sound of Belkodjha’s expressive whisper and the look of her voluptuous lips (yeah, base impulses don’t escape me even during discursive video essays) dissolve the film into pure sensation and emotion.
September 29, 2014
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What are people saying?

  • Nick Moon's rating of the film Level Five

    As they say, nothing dates as quickly as the future. Like the 80s/90s cyberpunks (William Gibson is briefly referred to at the film's outset) this feels like an admirable attempt to imagine the coming digital world which we now all inhabit. Is this perhaps one of the most 1997 films ever made? Coupled with an exploration of the Battle of Okinawa, and Marker's typical concerns with history, memory, identity.

  • Ben Dooley's rating of the film Level Five

    On a future internet encyclopedia (Wikipedia meets YouTube), a female historian researches the Battle of Okinawa, in which the Japanese state compelled citizens of an island to commit hara-kiri out of pride, rather than be taken by the allies, while also sending out diary-poems through the screen to an unseen lover. It’s a fascinating meditation on individual and collective memory and their mediation by technology.

  • raggiodisole's rating of the film Level Five

    The most important and most harrowing parts of this film concern the details of Okinawa. The finery is provided by musings(yet again) on time, memory, character and(new) t'interweb.

  • Jason's rating of the film Level Five

    Geist brought Chris Marker and the cyberwards thrust of the image-culture together at a moment of tremendous synthesis, producing what I am prepared to argue deserves to be considered one of his greatest works. We live in a time where technological advancements and rearrangements of how we process the human happen so fast that Level Five feels like it captured perfectly a world that wasn't around very long.

  • Joao Pedro Amorim's rating of the film Level Five

    younger brother - or maybe a son or a nephew - of hiroshima mon amour, "okinawa mon amour" represents the same blend of world history and personal loss. this time in a digital era. as it's said on the film - now people don't have memory. computers are their memory. in 1997 marker creates one of the most important films about our age. a total film, a complete masterpiece.

  • VincentVendetta's rating of the film Level Five

    Could Chris Marker secretly be one of the greatest video game theorists of all time? Its views on the new digital art are both breathtakingly visionary and hopelessly antiquated, with little progress compared to Sans Soleil. Yet its reflexion on the mangling of history through abstract interactivity (or the illusion of) is more important than ever. No game can transpose Okinawa, but then again, no art form can.

  • Michael H. CLAES's rating of the film Level Five

    Cinematic poem about the war. The presence of beautiful Catherine BELKHODJA prevents falling into the black sadness, the dark depression that bathes this movie .... Poème cinématographique sur la guerre. La présence de la belle Catherine BELKHODJA empêche de tomber dans la noire tristesse, la sombre dépression qui baigne ce film.

  • elenagallen's rating of the film Level Five

    This prophetic script is so much bigger than what one can actually process on a first view. You need to play the game over and over again to reach Level Five. Political, psychological, spiritual, technological awareness... Get past the acting, editing and filmmaking (if possible) to concentrate on that of a deep tragic enlightening message.

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