|Index||3 reviews in total|
Marker begins Sunday In Peking by recounting his childhood dream of visiting the city he was once only able to admire in books. We are taken on a journey through this city, as if experiencing it from the mind and through the eyes of Marker. His thoughts and observations about the traditions, history, and banalities of everyday life in Peking are woven together so elegantly that it leaves you intellectually satisfied with a smile on your face. The film is shot, appropriately, in a reddish and yellowish hue, structured in Marker's cinematic essay format and orated beautifully by the narrator. As always Marker never fails to add his trademark features such as the wonderful animations of his collaborators, toys, a focus on banalities, and of course the inclusion of his favourite animals (even if it is in the opening credits hehe). 10 out of 10, as always, Marker's poeticism never ceases to amaze!
Chris Marker's travel documentary on Peking is gorgeous. The colors are
bright and evocative. The narration describes the city as a "feast of
color" and Marker's camera is determined to film all of it.
As a Marker documentary, "Sunday in Peking" is not as a good as Letter from Siberia, made the following year, although as in that film Marker's initial connection to his subject was through memories of childhood stories and pictures in books. I am not sure of what Marker feels about Peking. It is a more ambiguous portrait than his one for Siberia. Marker clearly loves the people he sees (and the colors of course), but China is described as a "triumphant arch leading nowhere." I am not sure what to make of Marker's conclusion that Peking is the "Sabbath of the whole world." Regardless, "Sunday in Peking" is well worth watching. Marker's visuals are stunning.
Coincidentally, I have been reading Henry Miller's The Colossus of Maroussi as I have been watching the recent region 2 set of Marker movies. So far the movies in the set and the Miller book have complimented each other well. Both Marker and Miller are travelers giving a personalized account of their subjects. These accounts are unique, and as Miller writes: "Nobody can explain anything which is unique. One can describe, worship and adore."
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Dimanche à Pekin" or "Sunday in Peking" is a French live action documentary short film from 1956, so this one was made roughly a decade after WWII which shows you how old it is and it had its 60th anniversary. The writer and director here is Chris Marker, still known to many today and it is one of his early career efforts, probably one of his slightly more known works eventually, a couple years after his death. This documentary summarizes the most basic facts about 1950s China. It never gives any real insight about any of the aspects it touches, but quickly rushes on to the next. Maybe Marker should have finished on one area only as for a 20-minute documentary, it is really impossible to include all he included properly. This documentary never really manages to get below the surface at all and that's also why I do not really buy Marker's affection with this country here. I just don't feel the love and it may have been better if he hadn't made this little movie. Or maybe he wasn't just a good enough filmmaker yet because this is early from his career and in my opinion, eventually nothing (except the scary dust situation early on) is memorable about this one we have here, certainly not an exhibit for those saying Marker is among the best France has ever head in filmmaking. Not recommended.
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