Chris Marker, the influential French filmmaker whose career spanned six decades, has died, France’s Culture Ministry confirmed Monday. He was 91.
Chris Marker’s death seems to have occurred on the same date as Bergman and Antonioni’s, dead five years ago today.
Chris Markers large body of work includes the 1962 classic "La Jetee" – an award-winning post-apocalyptic movie that’s often ranked among the best time-travel films ever made.
Set in a post-World War III nuclear-devastated Paris, "La Jetee" tells the story of a prisoner sent to the past and future to save the present. The film was one of the first to use sci-fi notions of circular time and has since spawned a myriad of references.
Who said that time heals all wounds? It would be better to say that time heals everything – except wounds. With time, the hurt of separation loses its real limits. With time, the desired body will soon disappear, and if the desiring body has already ceased to exist for the other, then what remains is a wound, disembodied.
Chris Marker has been credited with inventing the "essay film," a style of documentary popularized by other filmmakers like Jean-Marie Straub, Danielle Huillet, Jean-Luc Godard, Errol Morris and Michael Moore. Despite his long legacy spanning from the early 1950′s, the eccentric filmmaker was still actively working well into his 80′s.
Coming from a fiercely polemical and intellectual political background, Marker experimented with film’s narrative and evocative possibilities in more ways than one. While it is difficult to trace the genealogy of modern cat videos, for instance, his 1990 documentary short "Cat Listening To Music" helped solidify the form.
A noted cat-lover himself, as well as something of a recluse, Marker would rarely allow himself to be interviewed or photographed for the press, offering pictures whenever asked for a photograph.
This 1894 film, one of the earliest produced by Thomas Edison’s Black Maria movie studio, features two cats boxing. Obviously it’s not actually a video, but it’s certainly evidence that even at the dawn of cinema, over a century before YouTube, cats ruled the moving image.
But is this the first recording of a cat in motion? That credit, it seems, goes to Eadweard Muybridge for his animal locomotion studies, which include this 1887 motion study of a cat running, below. Muybridge pioneered motion capture by inventing a setup of multiple cameras in sequence, which recorded continuous movement, frame by frame.