You're unlikely to see any film this year that is both as intellectually challenging and formally adventurous as Sans Soleil (Sunless). In fact, it's arguably too rich, complex and elusive to be digested on a single viewing. Hypnotised by its strange rhythms, you'll want to head back to the beginning and start all over again...
Made in the early `80s by French director Chris Marker, whose brilliant 30-minuter La Jetée inspired Twelve Monkeys, it's an idiosyncratic meditation on time and place, memory and image, in the post-modern universe. And yes, it's every bit as challenging as it sounds.
An unnamed woman reads out the correspondences from a fictional (and unseen) cameraman, whose footage, along with archive clips and synthesised video sequences, forms a "report from another world". Switching between Africa and Japan, San Francisco and Guinea-Bissau, Sans Soleil is structured around opposites and juxtapositions: First and Third worlds, happiness and sorrow, stillness and motion, dream and reality.
Exploring Japanese society, Marker avoids the familiar concentration on the economic miracle and instead records commemorative ceremonies, be they for the souls of departed pets, or for civilians who died in World War Two. There's even an inquiry into Hitchcock's Vertigo - for Marker, it's the only film capable of portraying impossible, insane memory.
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