Chris Marker was born and died on July 29. Synchrony reminiscent of that mysterious scene with which it opens and closes The Throwne (1962), trapping us in a time loop that today is part of the history of cinema and one of the most original filmographies of the 20th century. Not in vain, it costs as much to label it as it happens with its own author, to which the Filmoteca de Catalunya dedicates a double program on the occasion of its centenary, in which a selection of its documentaries, essays, film newspapers and televised programs can be seen, as well as other materials in exhibition format, such as his first travel photographs or the collection of guides Little planet, of which he was editor-in-chief.
Marker, who owes his last name to permanent markers, rarely allowed himself to be photographed and rarely accepted interviews. One was awarded in the video game Second Life, true to his sense of humor and his habit of operating under different logins (Kosinski, Sandor Krasna, Hayao Yamaneko), as one who adds several lives. Maybe that’s why he was so fascinated by cats. This elusiveness was his passport, which allowed him to move freely from one place to another, depending on his concerns, which in writing could be grouped into three or four blocks, although he lived them simultaneously.
Such would be the one who documents various political struggles and reflects on them, convinced of the transformative power of cinema. He who travels from one border to another attracted by beauty and its contrasts, either critically or poetically, and according to an idea of ”otherness” that over time would lose part of its innocence. Or the one that pays homage to Kurosawa and Tarkovsky, while getting excited about technology and new media, designing installations, CD-ROMs and other interactive pieces. Now, what gave unity to his work was a tireless reflection on images and how they shape our experience. In this sense, what Jean-Luc Godard said when he affirmed that cinema has never been a good historian is relevant, since perhaps he was the one who did the most to solve this, retrospectively questioning the meaning of many events, according to the way in which they remained. recorded in footage and photographs from different sources and that Marker himself amused himself assembling.
you and most The bottom of the air is red (1977), which is a monumental fresco on the revolutions that shook the planet in the sixties and seventies. Or in Without sun (1982), a kaleidoscope made from the material collected by a mysterious character who travels around the world and from the letters he sends to an anonymous narrator, who is the one who opens this emblematic essay: “The first image he told me about was that of three children on a road, in Iceland, in 1965. He told me that for him it was the image of happiness, and also that he had tried many times to associate it with other images, but that it had never worked. He wrote to me: ‘One day I’ll put it alone at the beginning of a movie, next to a piece in black. If they don’t see happiness, they will at least see darkness. ‘
In his work, Marker never spoke directly. He did it through others, through the voice in off. Being a much discussed resource in the cinematographic medium, it allowed him to displace his authorship and, what is more important, to add a reflective and poetic quality to the images, freeing them from their purely informative character. Recall that from Harun Farocki to Alexander Kluge, one of the concerns of postwar filmmakers was media saturation and the alienating effect that the continual bombardment of news brought with it. Marker reacted to this through montage, juxtaposing seemingly distant and disjointed concepts or scenes, with the idea that the viewer could infer their relationship to each other, which is exactly how a metaphor works.
In this way, he was able to combine distant spaces and times, uniting them under the sign of poetry, to fulfill a very typical desire of the 20th century, to put it in the words of Isaki Lacuesta, who dedicated a fantastic prologue to this author, upon request. from the Kriller 71 publishing house. In it he insists that, for Marker, events never evolved in a straight line, but in a spiral, that is, in time segments that face each other and repeat, without ever being identical. And a spiral is what you see in the trunk of an old tree in The Pier, as well as in the hairstyle of its protagonist in a scene that refers us to Vertigo of Hitchcock, updating the feeling of already seen that was already in the original tape, and that reappears in the aforementioned Without sun, where he affirms the following, even if it is through the mouth of another: “It can be said that I have spent my life wondering about the function of memory, which is not the opposite of forgetting, but rather its reverse. In fact, we don’t remember anything. We rewrite memory in the same way that we rewrite history ”.
In these half-amnesic times and in which there are so many hoaxes, Marker’s suspicions about how we articulate certain stories based on what we retain from his images are once again very relevant, and even act as an antidote: let’s celebrate his anniversary.
‘Chris Marker. It’s six o’clock all over the earth … ‘. Filmoteca de Catalunya. Barcelona. Until September 30.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.