Saturday 19 October 2019

Some Notes on Chris Marker & Immemory

As the project I am trying to conceive is about memory and photography I am going to write a little here about Chris Marker, as an introduction, I will quote the introduction here from Encyclopedia Britannica;

'Chris Marker (Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve), French filmmaker and multimedia artist (born July 29, 1921, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France?—died July 29, 2012, Paris, France), pioneered the essay film, an avant-garde cinematic form that brings a personal approach to documentary and nonnarrative footage. His best-known work, La Jetée (1962), is a short subject composed almost entirely of still photographs, with the exception of a brief film shot; the “plot” later served as the inspiration for the cryptic time-traveling drama Twelve Monkeys (1995).' (Encyclopedia Britannica 2019)

Marker is known to be quite elusive however one of his great passions was on the subject of memory or what he termed 'immemory' he considered that memory was unreliable and that memory was more a kind of geography. In his film Remembrance of things to come (2001) the film is about a photographer Denise Bellon going over two decades from 1935-1955 however it is essentially a play on memory, biography, and history. It is non-linear and plays with words and images.  This montage has great beauty in its layers of history, it's feeling for the moment.  This piece jumps from African masks to Picasso, artists with cats and Nazi death camps it causes a feeling of moving through memory.  The narrative speaks over the images and offers insight but no feeling, the feeling comes through the images from sad, melancholic to tremendous, overwhelming.  This film has a sense of what I would like to show in my own film.  A sense of moving through time but through memory where memories come in disorder at the whim of something that jars memory like Proust's Madeline memory will be provoked.  Sometimes we wish the memory had not come but the smell, taste, or feeling brings the memory to the fore without warning.

Mitchell states in his article from The New York Times: 'Mr. Marker's own intrigue with impatience -- his fleet films dance by in an instant, while using the music of pauses and silence to convey an almost inscrutable density -- is a marvel when married to an admiring biography. His singular talent is in melting one image into another in a manner that serves as on-the-fly narrative; it's as if he has the power to anticipate dreams.' (Mitchell 28/05/2003)

If only I could anticipate dreams, I often try to write down my dreams as they are often disturbing and it is with this thought of dreams I will consider that the film itself, like a dream, will have that surreal element where time and place jump and fade into each.  In my dreams a room can change to a rocky landscape, the voice of my sister will become the sound of a scream.  Dreams are perhaps how I begin to storyboard this piece.

'Marker, 81, has always preferred to allow his filmed images, rather than his image as a filmmaker, to speak for him. Less than a dozen photographs of Marker exist, and his interviews are even more rare.' (Film Comment May/June 2003)

I like it that little is known and few pictures exist - his work is him, through this we, the viewer, get a sense of the artist.


Encyclopedia Brittanica (2019) Chris Marker [Online] Available from: (Accessed 19/10/19)

Chris Marker: Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory (2019) Immemory [Online] Available from: (Accessed 19/10/19)

Chris Marker: Notes from the Era of Imperfect Memory from Film Comment May/June2003 (2019) Immemory [Online] Available from: (Accessed 19/10/19)

Icarus Films (2001) Remembrance of Things to Come: Le Souvenir d'un Avenir [Online] Available from; (Accessed 19/10/19)

Proust M (2003) In Search of Lost Time: The Way by Swann's: The Way by Swann's Vol 1.Penguin Books Ltd. London

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