In This Article Chris Marker

  • Introduction
  • Monographs
  • Edited Volumes
  • Photo Books and Portfolios by Marker
  • Online Sources
  • Miscellaneous
  • Early Journal Issues
  • Post-1990 Journal Issues
  • Marker and Bazin
  • Marker and the Left Bank
  • Activism and Slon
  • Essay Film
  • Memory and History
  • Photographs and Stills
  • Video Art and New Media
  • Interviews

Cinema and Media Studies Chris Marker
by
Steven Jacobs, Sofie Verdoodt
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 April 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 November 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791286-0042

Introduction

Chris Marker is a pseudonym of Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve (b. 1921, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France–d. 2012, Paris, France), a French director, screenwriter, photographer, editor, writer, and multimedia artist. A major figure in the history of both experimental and documentary film, Marker turned out to be a mythic artist, who is always elusive about his past—even his place of birth is highly disputed (Ulan Bator, Mongolia, and Belleville, Paris compete with Neuilly-sur-Seine). In addition, Marker was known to refuse interviews and not allow photographs to be taken of him (though these claims are not entirely accurate). After studying philosophy prior to World War II, an involvement in the French Resistance during the German occupation, and having joined the United States Air Force as a paratrooper, Marker emerged as an intellectual, journalist, writer, and photographer in Paris in the 1940s. Already he showed a particular interest in filmmaking and he eventually made his debut as a filmmaker in 1952 with a documentary of the Helsinki Olympic Games. Soon after, he collaborated with Alain Resnais on Les Statues meurent aussi—both Marker and Resnais became key members (next to Agnès Varda, Jean Rouch, and Marguerite Duras) of the so-called Rive Gauche group. From the 1950s onward, Marker made seminal documentary essay films such as Dimanche à Pékin, Lettre de Sibérie, and Le Joli Mai. In 1962, he became known internationally for the short La Jetée (The Pier), which consists of still photographs. After his involvement in collective and radical filmmaking for SLON and ISKRA in the period 1967–1974, Marker made Sans Soleil, his best-known and most widely seen essay film that combines documentary and fiction. Already interested in the interactions between various media from the beginning of his career, Marker also developed into a leading video and multimedia artist beginning in the 1980s.

Monographs

Book-length volumes on Marker appeared only relatively late apart from some retrospective brochures released by film museums and film festivals. Some Edited Volumes were published in the 1990s and single-authored books on Marker are an even more recent phenomenon. Since the turn of the 21st century, however, monographic studies—Gauthier 2001, Pourvali 2003, and Lambert 2008—quickly followed one another. Some of these recent books, such as Lupton 2005, Alter 2006, and Cooper 2008, are written in English. Filser 2010 and Thomas 2009 focus on specific films while dealing with a wide range of occupations that can be found in Marker’s entire oeuvre.

  • Alter, Nora M. Chris Marker. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006.

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    This book deals with Marker’s entire oeuvre but is organized according to three themes: (1) Marker’s contribution to the genre of the essay film, (2) the politically engaged films, and (3) his experimentations in new media and technology. Also contains English translations of some of Marker’s writings and interviews.

  • Cooper, Sarah. Chris Marker. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2008.

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    Discussing all important works by Marker in five chronologically structured chapters, Cooper focuses on the ways Marker’s filmic images reveal a fascination for stillness. The crucial role of photography in Marker’s oeuvre is not only demonstrated in his photo-films, but also in the filming of statuary, painting, and other static images.

  • Filser, Barbara. Chris Marker und die Ungewissheit der Bilder. Paderborn, Germany: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2010.

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    Focusing on La Jetée, Le Fond de l’air est rouge, Sans Soleil, and Level Five, Filser demonstrates how Marker deconstructs images and emphasizes how they are camera-made.

  • Gauthier, Guy. Chris Marker: Écrivain multimédia, ou, voyage à travers les médias. Paris: L’Harmattan, 2001.

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    Containing twelve thematic chapters, the book offers a general overview of Marker’s oeuvre focusing on Marker activities as a traveler and his involvement in several media.

  • Lambert, Arnaud. Also Known As Chris Marker. Paris: Le Point du Jour, 2008.

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    Comprising twenty-two short thematic chapters, the book presents itself as “not so much as a portrait of an author but rather as a récit suggestif.” Contains original insights of lesser-known works by Marker, such as his photographs, multimedia installations, and writings, including some of his early articles published in Esprit. With detailed filmography and bibliography.

  • Lupton, Catherine. Chris Marker: Memories of the Future. London: Reaktion, 2005.

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    The first comprehensive study in English of Marker’s work, dealing with his entire oeuvre. Structured chronologically, the book addresses the topics that mark Marker’s work: travel, activism, the role of history and memory, and the translation of the cinematic into other media. Includes filmography and bibliography.

  • Pourvali, Bamchade. Chris Marker. Paris: Cahiers du Cinéma, 2003.

    E-mail Citation »

    General introduction to Marker’s oeuvre. The first part consists of five chapters dealing with the early shorts, La Jetée, Le Joli Mai, and cinéma vérité, Le Fond de l’air est rouge and the compilation films, and Sans Soleil and the travel films, respectively. The second part is a presentation of documents and shot and sequence analyses.

  • Thomas, Dessislava. Gegen den Filmriss: Chris Markers Essayfilme und Porträtfilme. Marburg, Germany: Tectum Verlag, 2009.

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    Focusing on Une Journee d’Andrei Arsenevitch, Le Tombeau d’Alexandre, and A. K., Thomas deals with Marker’s biographical essays on Andrei Tarkovsky, Alexander Medvedkin, and Akira Kurosawa, respectively.

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