Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"A Month of VERTIGO," TCM and...Synchronicity

Sans Soleil
This blog was consumed by Vertigo all through January and half of February. I thought I'd moved on, was looking forward to Mad Men on Sunday nights - and then I opened the March issue of TCM's Now Playing guide.

One of my Vertigo guest bloggers, Dan Auiler, author of the definitive Vertigo: the Making of a Hitchcock Classic, considered two films by French filmmaker Chris Marker in his piece, Vertigo for Life: La Jetee  (1962) and Sans Soleil (1983). I read of Marker with interest; I was completely unfamiliar with his work, but Dan's references to his films and the links of each to Hitchcock's Vertigo piqued my interest and I put both on my "to watch" list. I did not have to wait for very long...

This Sunday night (for some, the wee hours of Monday morning), March 4, Turner Classic Movies will air both films, Sans Soleil at 2:15 am Eastern/11:15 pm Pacific, and La Jetee at 4:00 am Eastern/1:00am Pacific.

La Jetee
Chris Marker, born in 1921 and still with us today, studied philosophy with Jean-Paul Sartre in the 1930s and was part of the French Resistance during World War II. He is best known for the two films mentioned as well as A Grin Without a Cat (1977) and the 1985 documentary, AK, on Akira Kurosawa. Marker is classified among France's Left Bank (Rive Gauche) filmmakers, a group contemporary to but considered distinct from the French New Wave. Others in the Left Bank cluster include Alain Resnais (Hiroshima mon amour, Last Year at Marienbad, Mon oncle d'Amerique), Agnes Varda (Le Bonheur, Vagabond) and others - like Varda's husband Jacques Demy (Lola, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Young Girls of Rochefort).

La Jetee, composed primarily of cinematically showcased still photos, has been called a Science Fiction masterpiece (even at a short 28 minutes) and has inspired or provided the basis for several later films. Of these, the most familiar to and popular with American audiences is Terry Gilliam's 1995 hit, 12 Monkeys, starring Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt and Christopher Plummer.

Sans Soleil reflects on time and memory and features several locales around the world - including the San Francisco Bay Area where locations shown in Hitchcock's Vertigo are revisited. Sans Soleil is said to recall Vertigo's structure and themes.

Between Vertigo, the Oscars and Mad Men, I'll be making time to discover Chris Marker this weekend...

Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo


  1. Thanks for the tip, lady Eve. I'm going to try and take this opportunity and see those Chris Marker films. On a little bit of a discordant note: I saw just brief glimpses of the Academy Awards the other night and noticed that on a couple of occassions when they were announcing nominations they, as is typical, would play the particular movie's musical theme underneath. When I watched it and they announced "The Artist" the music they played was the famous Bernard Herrmann theme from "Vertigo". I thought this was odd, given the controversy around using this classic music in "The Artist". I also read that "The Artist" received an Oscar for Best Original Score. I have to wonder how many of the Academy's voters had the music of Vertigo resonating in their ears when they recorded their vote for the score of "The Artist" - it seems kind of like a slap in the face (especially for Kim Novak). I swear I'm not trying to be a troublemaker, but I couldn't help but squirm a little. I'm really looking forward to the new season of "Mad Men" and to your blog's covering of the event, in which I'm happy to participate.

  2. Marker is NOT for everyone. I don't particularly like his work, but it does have aesthetic value.

  3. I'm not very familiar with Marker. I will check him out..

  4. More synchronicity...Hitchcock's "Vertigo" is set to screen at Oakland, CA's stunning Art Deco jewel, the Paramount Theatre next week.

    Meanwhile, I am not a great fan of the French New Wave, though not opposed it either. Of the Left Bank filmmakers, I'm only familiar with Resnais' "Last Year in Marienbad" and some of Jacques Demy's films. Am very curious where M. Marker fits into this scenario...

  5. Eve, I think I saw LA JETEE two or three times in college film classes. Although not for all tastes (what movie is?), it's certainly innovative and--as you know--I'm a fan of the time travel film genre. As for the French New Wave, I prefer the more conventional end of its spectrum (more Truffaut and less Renais).

  6. part of SANS SOLEIL is a piece on San Francisco sites featured in Vertigo..Marker has nothing to do with the NEW WAVE...great blog, Patty...please post at the CFU!!!!!

  7. I haven't seen Sans Soleil but La Jetee is absolutely wonderful. It's short & simple but it says so much more than so many longer & seemingly more complex movies

  8. Thanks Rick, Doc and Kim for your thoughts on Marker's films.

    Another interesting bit of synchronicity...just discovered "12 Monkeys" is airing on HBO tonight. Haven't seen it for years but am recording it. Later will view with an eye toward its relationship to "La Jetee"...

  9. And in even MORE amazing coincidences, TCM Film Fest is honoring Kim Novak with a screening of VERTIGO (which she'll introduce) AND a footprints ceremony at Graumann's Chinese. How awesome is THAT? I cannot WAIT!

  10. Very good news about Kim Novak, Kay.