Sans Soleil (1982)

Chris Marker’s speculative travelogue-essay, reflecting on culture and history in narrated letters from Guinea to Japan to Iceland.

A poetic documentary tour of Tokyo, Guinea-Bissau, Iceland and San Francisco, Sans Soleil mingles personal reflections with the history of the world. The female narrator reads letters sent by fictional Sandor Krasna, writing from ‘another world’. The spoken word, synthesized sound and haunting visuals investigate relationships between developed and developing societies. Virtuoso editing and special effects conjure the disorientation of a world traveller, journeying through cultures, secret rituals and confusions of time.

“The consummate cine-essay, framed as reportage from a roving cineaste, built mainly from Marker’s observations of the ‘empire of signs’ that is modern Japan and the poverty endemic in Guinea Bissau. Entertainingly provocative speculations on the ‘post-political’ world, haunted by the piano music of Mussorgsky.” Tony Rayns

“A treatise on travel, on history, on art and on life, Marker’s film unfolds like an epistolary novel in dialogue with itself. His virtuosity with the camera is matched by the brilliance of the montage.” Bruce Jenkins

“The essay film par excellence. Sometimes philosophical, sometimes playful, always intriguing, always surprising.” Rainer Rother

1982 France
Directed by
Chris Marker
Produced by
Anatole Dauman
Featuring
Florence Delay, Alexandra Stewart

Ranked in The Greatest Films of All Time poll

Sight and Sound

Who voted for Sans Soleil

Critics

Magdalena Arau
Argentina
Erika Balsom
UK
Martin Brady
UK
Hannes Brühwiler
Germany/Switzerland
Alejandro Cozza
Argentina
Jesse Cumming
Canada
André Dias
Portugal
David Ehrlich
USA
Tina Hassannia
Canada
Eric Henderson
USA
Bill Horrigan
USA
Eulàlia Iglesias Huix
Spain
Stefan Ivančić
Serbia
Sean Jacobs
USA
Bruce Jenkins
USA
Shanay Jhaveri
India
Jay Kuehner
USA
James Lattimer
Germany
Dana Linssen
Netherlands
Leandro Listorti
Argentina
Phillip Lopate
USA
Carlos Losilla
Spain
Chiara Marañón
Spain/UK
Mads K. Mikkelsen
Denmark
Luis Miranda
Spain
Angelo Muredda
Canada
Veton Nurkollari
Kosovo
Lakshmi Padmanabhan
USA
Hannah Pilarczyk
Germany
Sven Pötting
Germany
Tony Rayns
UK
Jeff Reichert
USA
David Rooney
USA
Rainer Rother
Germany
Catherine Russell
Canada
Cristian Saldía
Chile
Giulio Sangiorgio
Italy
Rüdiger Suchsland
Germany
Ryan Swen
US
José Teodoro
Canada
Andrew Tracy
Canada
J. M. Tyree
USA
Deane Williams
Australia

Directors

Mania Akbari
Iran
Romain Gavras
France
Grant Gee
UK
Isaac Julien
Carlos Marqués-Marcet
Spain
Tadhg O'Sullivan
Ireland
Camilo Restrepo
Colombia
Kivu Ruhorahoza
Rwanda
Charlie Shackleton
UK
Helena Wittmann
Germany