8.1/10
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34 user 53 critic

Sans Soleil (1983)

Sans soleil (original title)
Not Rated | | Documentary, Drama | 2 March 1983 (France)
A woman narrates the contemplative writings of a seasoned world traveler, focusing on contemporary Japan.

Director:

Chris Marker (as Chris. Marker)

Writer:

Chris Marker (as Chris. Marker)
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4 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Florence Delay Florence Delay ... Narrator (French version) (voice)
Arielle Dombasle ... Herself
Riyoko Ikeda Riyoko Ikeda ... Narrator (Japanese version) (voice)
Charlotte Kerr Charlotte Kerr ... Narrator (German version) (voice)
Kim Novak ... Herself / Madeleine Elster / Judy Burton (archive footage)
Alexandra Stewart ... Narrator (English version) (voice)
James Stewart ... Himself / John 'Scottie' Ferguson (archive footage)
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Storyline

"He wrote me...." A woman narrates the thoughts of a world traveler, meditations on time and memory expressed in words and images from places as far-flung as Japan, Guinea-Bissau, Iceland, and San Francisco. Written by George S. Davis <mgeorges@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

France

Release Date:

2 March 1983 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Sans Soleil See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,899, 5 December 2003, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$30,878, 7 December 2003
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Argos Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Black and White (archive footage)| Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The narration refers to the Japanese word "Tora" as the name of an individual pet cat. The literal translation of the word "Tora" in English is "Tiger". See more »

Quotes

Narrator: He wrote me: curiosity of course, and the glimmer of industrial espionage in the eye-I imagine them bringing out within two years time a more efficient and less expensive version of Catholicism-but there's also the fascination associated with the sacred, even when it's someone else's.
See more »

Connections

Features Caligula (1979) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Eastern cultures through a Western lens. Also, boring.
18 May 2005 | by trippycheezSee all my reviews

I'm surprised to see that so many other reviewers tolerated and even loved SANS SOLEIL. In my opinion, SANS SOLEIL is an inferior version of KAYAANISQATSI (which was released the same year): while KAYAANISQATSI lets its images of different societies, machines, and crowds speak for themselves, Chris Marker layers a monologue of pseudo-intellectual babble over his. The footage itself is pretty interesting: we see Japanese people performing ancient purification rites, some nice shots of Iceland's lunar landscape, and other scenes from societies around the world, but the voice-over pretty much ruins it. It's like a failed poet hijacked National Geographic and forced them to make SANS SOLEIL instead of something interesting. Honestly, you could probably find more meaningful prose in a teenage goth's LiveJournal.

I had a few ideological problems with the movie as well. Chris Marker (a Frenchman, I assume?) darted about in non-Western societies, viewing foreign people through a camera lens. He then mashed all the footage together, drawing inferences from the images which he then communicated to us, the (primarily Western) viewers through a voice-over. He never interviews anyone he films. His voice is the only one we hear, he is the sole authority who controls the information we receive, and as a result he can construct other cultures to fit a message of his choosing.

What to the people living in the jungle have to say about life? That's what I'd like to know. But instead we hear through Marker that they are noble savages, free in their own way despite being so primitive, practicing mystical rituals the narrator doesn't actually comprehend, etc. Even Japanese TV somehow serves to illuminate Japanese culture for Marker, despite the fact that he admits he doesn't speak Japanese and can't understand a word of what's going on! Edmund Said explores this form of representation in his book "Orientalism," but basically I see Chris Marker as the Rudyard Kipling or Marco Polo of our day. He travels abroad, reports back to us with a romanticized description of other cultures (which the cultures themselves do not contribute to directly), we accept it, and the discourse ends. We never learn anything tangible, besides the fact that Marker found this experience to be personally significant in some vague way.

Also, I had to close my ears while the narrator discusses Hitchcock's VERTIGO... I haven't seen that one yet and had a feeling Marker wouldn't include any spoiler warnings.


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