Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list.
dir. scr. and cin. Chris Marker
In 100 words: The greatest documentary that I have ever seen is part travelogue, part historical examination, part experimental film, and part personal diary. Marker was a poet first, and his film never settles on a clear narrative. He juxtaposes laments of the forgotten importance of places like Cape Verde or Guinea-Bissau with the profound rituals of modern Tokyo. I find his obsession with cats endearing, and his meditations on memory, context, and time bracing. The music also feels haunting but oddly peaceful at the same time. All of this feel spiritual, like invading into someone’s memory and reading their most intimate thoughts.
Other Movies for Context: The only other movie I saw from Chris Marker is La Jetee (1963), which I was seriously confused by because it was a narrative with only images. This particular movie reminded me a lot of Riddles of the Sphinx (1977), Laura Mulvey’s bracingly opaque and brilliant experimental movie that relies heavily on narration. Fascinating really.