French experimental film essayist and multimedia artist Chris Marker was never anything like a household name. But when he died Sunday at the age of 91 in Paris, Marker left behind 60 years worth of often remarkable works that continue to serve as sustenance for anyone aspiring to make fine art on film. He was connected to the Left Bank Cinema movement in 1950s Paris, which served as a counterpoint to less experimental Right Bank filmmakers like Francois Truffaut.
Two of Marker’s best-known films were reissued this year on a single DVD or Bu-ray set by The Criterion Collection. La jetée is a 28-minute work of science fiction composed almost entirely of still photographs and narration that directly inspired Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys. Sans Soleil offers a full-length stream-of-consciousness travelogue that moves between Japan, Africa, and France to draw unseen connections between disparate cultures.
Chris Marker’s work remains a persuasive reminder film can be as pure and true an art form as any other, at least in the hands of the right practitioner.