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The Koumiko Mystery More at IMDbPro »Le mystère Koumiko (original title)

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

The mosquito woman

7/10
Author: chaos-rampant from Greece
16 April 2011

The greatest enemy of meditation (at least in the spring and summer months) is actually the smallest, the mosquito. As the itch settles, all effort to concentrate the mind seems to have been in vain. It's all you can do to keep from calling it quits until the next day, yet we can learn something from it. That not only is the mind small and helpless to the tiniest distraction, and that the mind's reaction to even the smallest tingle is the source of consciousness, but also the profound recognition, tangible in that small itch, that we are impotent to really effect control upon the universe down to its tiniest manifestation. Trying to only adds to our suffering. Our only defense is stillness, which we can attain by hard training. The mosquito then becomes our greatest teacher.

Chris Marker is in Tokyo for the '64 Olympics. In the festive uproar of the stadium, his camera settles in on a face in the crowd, that of a young Japanese woman. She takes him on a tour of the city and Marker coaxes answers from her about Japanese life, ideals of beauty and love, purpose in life. Whether or not Marker speaks through her and the interviews are scripted, which is to say whether or not Koumiko is fictional or real, the film essay or documentary, the realization is the same; she's an ordinary woman, facing the same inscrutable dilemmas as the rest of us.

I like how Marker concludes this. Koumiko is one of so many million women in Japan he tells us, one of so many million in the world. Our reward then is not a unique insight but an ordinary one, a snapshot of a soul in transit to the world, yearning or remembering for a few brief instances, which we may recognize from our own struggles for a meaningful life.

Marker has surrounded himself with myth, even Senses of Cinema, an ostensibly serious film journal, lists Ulan Bator, Mongolia as his place of birth. He's not the only director to stylize a persona, Herzog, Godard, Von Trier, plenty have done it, but he's been perhaps the most efficient. Which ultimately means nothing. He's a man with a movie camera, making films. We may know him from them, meaning we may not know the person (do we ever?) but we can know the consciousness.

She is the mosquito bite that awakens a stream of images.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

"Le mystere of ... Marker redefining poetry!" ;)

10/10
Author: kmevy from Graz, Austria
25 November 2007

Once again i was struck by Marker's insightful poetic way of portraying.

Although i watched it on a very old and worn out VHS-Tape i still could feel the magic every Marker-film is holding. Watching a film like this makes you feel like you are accompanying Marker on a journey from a distant star to our blue planet observing every habit, gesture and thought of mankind. You could say that "Sans Soleil" and "Le Mystere Koumiko" are very alike but there are some significant differences between those two films.

"Mystere Koumiko" concentrates more on the individual. While the narrator in "Sans Soleil" keeps a certain distance this time Marker involves very intimate conversations focusing especially on one person's mind. But the interesting thing which fascinates me is the way how Marker still succeeds portraying a whole society (be it Japanese or mankind in general) just by focusing on one individual. The shown footage of everyday life are clearly not focused on one individual ;) but the entire narrative is structured by the individual thoughts of Koumiko and Marker himself which also reflect the thoughts of millions of people at the same time.

Being an huge admirer of Chris Marker's work it is very sad to witness that he is yet very unknown to most of the people. He definitely deserves a larger degree of popularity ... that's for sure! ;)

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8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Another great

10/10
Author: carrienations from Philadelphia, PA
8 February 2004

Not as well known as "La Jetee" and "Sans Soleil", this is another great film by Chris Marker. The subject of the film, a young Japanese woman during the time of the Tokyo Olympiad (1962) is fascinating. Don't call it a documentary... it's a look inside this young woman's world. A brilliant film that I look forward to seeing again. This is going to be hard to locate, but I highly recommend you do so, particularly if you enjoyed "Sans Soleil" like I did.

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