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9.0
/10
4,447 Ratings

Sans soleil

Directed by Chris Marker
France, 1983
Documentary

Synopsis

An unnamed woman narrates the letters and philosophical reflections of an invisible world traveler accompanied by footage of Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, Iceland, Paris, San Francisco and, most significantly, Tokyo—a city whose people, streets, malls and temples inspire the traveler’s observations.

Our take

How to describe such an indescribable film? Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil is cinema as stream-of-consciousness, following the journey of an unseen hero around the globe and into the mind. Today, it is considered a masterpiece, a film that breaks free of the documentary form and into a world of its own.

Sans soleil Directed by Chris Marker
A further advantage gained from this mediation is Marker’s chameleon-like capacity to shift certain national characteristics as he moves from one culture to another. All proportions guarded, one might suggest that he typically comes across as a European Marxist in Africa, as an American obsessed with technology and technical innovation in Japan, and as a French surrealist in the U.S.—always a naturalized tourist of some sort rather than either a citizen or a greenhorn.
February 07, 2012
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In these three arbitrary locations, we are presented with a past and future humanity trapped in a global simultaneity: one of ceremony, technology, melancholy, and revolution… Released in 1983 but “dated” only by the spectacular, well-documented use of an analog video synthesizer presumably “lost” to a history whose existence we can no longer accept, SANS SOLEIL will always be the film of the future.
March 14, 2008
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It stands as a model of the essay film… A female narrator reads from letters written by a world traveler, whose free-associative comments can leap from a minor cultural observation (like mating habits on the Bijagós Islands) to video games to the Khmer Rouge. It’s an arch, difficult film, as fuzzily intellectual as “La Jetée” is precise, but worth getting lost in all the same.
July 18, 2007
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