Chris Marker, documentary film-maker, writer and media visionary dies aged 91

Quote from – and rare photograph of – Chris Marker. Image from entropiK reproduced under CC license from Flickr.

Chris Marker has died on his 91st birthday. Marker, who was born Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve, was a documentary film-maker, writer, artist and leading light of the French avant-garde.Very little is documented about his early life, although it is known that he served with the French Resistance during the Occupation. He rarely gave interviews and the few photographs available of him, including that which appears on the image reproduced above, were usually taken without his knowledge. He did leave us, however, with a fascinating body of work from a wide range of artistic disciplines. One of Marker’s first films was Olympia 52, a record of the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. This, like much of Marker’s work, can be seen on YouTube. I wonder what he would have made of today’s London Olympics?

Perhaps his most famous film was La Jetée which imagined a post-nuclear war world with survivors attempting to return in time to try to avoid the catastrophe. Made almost entirely from still photographs, the film gave a new meaning to the term “motion pictures”. Marker made films right up to the turn of the century and influenced many other film-makers and artists. Terry Gilliam’s 1995 film 12 Monkeys owed much to La Jetée  and Batman director, Christopher Nolan, found much to admire in Sans Soleil when making his 2000 film, Memento. The Library has both films paired together on DVD.

You can find plenty of articles on Chris Marker’s life and works in Library Catalogue Plus and in the specialist database Art Full Text found listed under Select Databases, also on Library Catalogue Plus.