Magazine article Artforum International

Patrick Keiller

Magazine article Artforum International

Patrick Keiller

Article excerpt

CHRIS MARKER was one of a number of innovators with careers most usually dated from the 1950s who had participated in World War 11 (John Latham [1921-2006] and Kurt Vonnegut [1922-20071 were others); he was born in the same year as his friends Yves Montand (1921-1991) and Simone Signoret (1921-1985), who would each narrate his 1963 film Le Joli Mai, Montand in French and Signoret in English; like Main Resnais (b. 1922) he was older than Jean-Luc Godard (b. 1930) and Francois Truffaut (1932-1984) and only a few years younger than Jean-Pierre Melville (1917-1973): like Melville. Marker adopted a pseudonym, was active in the French Resistance, and had an interesting relationship with American culture. For my generation in the UK. born in the 1950s and growing up in the '60s, still in the shadow of the war. these were serious people. veterans, experienced in a way it was unlikely we would ever he. In this sense, too. Marker wrote to us 'from a far-off country," as his Letter from Siberia (1957) famously begins; it was a country we might yearn to inhabit, or at least visit. In 1968 or thereabouts, we were the same age as Marker had been in 1939, so that for us, the corresponding period is the late '60s and early '70s. when I. and I imagine many others, initially encountered Marker's films.

I first saw La Jetee (1962) in January 1969, in a late-night program that was. I think, part of some longer event in which the films weren't individually listed, so that it came as a complete surprise. I was an architecture student, and while it never occurred to me to make anything like a film until ten years later, I very often recalled Marker's extraordinary work; when I did attempt some cinematography, it was the form of La Jetee that encouraged me. …

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