Criterion has put together a special two film package, of La Jetee (1962) and Sans Soleil (1983), from French filmmaker, poet, novelist, photographer, editor, videographer and multimedia artist Chris Marker. The Criterion edition includes: new video interviews with filmmaker Jean-Pierre Gorin, Chris on Chris, a video piece on Marker by filmmaker and critic Chris Drake, two excerpts from the French TV series Court-circuit (le magazine), directed by Luc Lagier: the first, a look at David Bowie's music video for "Jump They Say," inspired by LaJetee; the second, analysis of Hitchcock's Vertigo and its influence on Marker, and a booklet featuring a new essay by Marker scholar Catherine Lupton, an interview with Marker, and notes on the films and film making by Marker.
I first became aware of La Jetee when Terry Gilliam based his film, 12 Monkeys, on it. It is quite an achievement what Marker has managed to convey with still photographs and cinematic techniques utilizing music, voice overs, lighting, and editing. However, I was truly mesmerized by Sans Soleil, which is notable for its length of 103 minutes versus the sparse 27 minutes of La Jetee. But more than that there are some very arresting visual images and sequences throughout the film. Most notably for me were those that were filmed in Tokyo in the early 80s. Since I have been living in/near Tokyo for the last 15 years, these sequences of what passed before are of great interest to me. But there were several other sequences that captured my interest as well, for example, the dreadful and utterly compelling "death of a giraffe" was fascinating. I was also drawn into the images from the former colony of Portugal, which waged a successful guerrilla war against the colonizers. The footage of the Icelandic village before and after the volcano were also astounding. I feel this film will reward repeated viewings, in spite of the fact that La Jetee was named by Sight & Sound magazine as one of the top 50 films of all-time.