Pssst, want to check out Sans soleil in our new look?
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It's mainly an exploration of memory, how humans remember, and how we rewrite memory much like history rewrites itself. The way I see it, it mixes fiction with documentary, and is more concerned with a sort of subjective reality Chris Marker has built around the events we are shown. I think the "main plot" is quite clear though, but of course there are tons of digressions and small observations which can make it a bit hard to follow at firs, I guess. I recommend you rewatch it! Gets better each time.
Best film of all time, by the way.
A "free form travelogue" and "non-linear essay" are but two phrases I've read to describe this film. Predominantly, it explores aspects of Japanese traditions and folkways; but there are random jaunts across Africa, to Iceland and a genuinely odd segment in which scenes from Hitchcock's Vertigo are re-traced on location in San Francisco.
It appears that Chris Marker wants to explore the nature of time, but got hung up on places. People are largely incidental to this exploration; yes, he covers various rites and rituals, but they are dispassionate, the way a documentarian might comment on the mannerisms of observed elk. It put me in the mood to re-watch Lost in Translation, but I can't say that I feel I even know what questions were being asked by the film to know what I took away from it.
A challenging film, but one that is really worth your time if you are a cinema lover. Trying to sum up this film would be quite a difficult task. You could call it a political, pop-art, existential exploration of history and art, human consciousness, and reality. The narrator's voice is really haunting, probably the best narration in a film I have ever seen.
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In 15 official lists
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This movie ranks #3 in Sight and Sound -The Greatest Documentaries of All Time
This movie ranks #73 in Sight and Sound 2012 - Combined List
This movie ranks #73 in Times' 100 Best French Films
This movie ranks #80 in Harvard University's Suggested Film Viewing List: Non-Fiction Films (2012)
This movie ranks #81 in TimeOut's 100 Best French Films
This movie ranks #89 in 100 Documentary Films (BFI Screen Guide)
This movie ranks #97 in They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?
This movie ranks #111 in 366 Weird Movies (Certified Weird)
This movie ranks #154 in iCheckMovies - Most Favorite
This movie ranks #392 in The Story of Film: An Odyssey
This movie ranks #411 in The Criterion Collection
This movie ranks #699 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #764 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Films
This movie ranks #781 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die
This movie ranks #799 in TimeOut's 1000 Films to Change Your Life