If you’ve ever heard the term “film essay” and not had a clue what it actually meant, you’re missing out…big time. Film essays are a curious thing. They’re not quite documentaries, but they’re not full-fledged, plot-driven fictions either. So what are they? Well, it’s kind of hard to explain.
Sans Soleil by Chris Marker is one of them. Circling the theme of memory, this film travels the world with a single female narrator reading a long letter throughout the entirety of the movie. That may sound boring, but I can promise you that it’s anything but. Filmmakers are raised on this work that is self-reflexive in its form and poetically deep in its content. You can’t quite put your finger on what’s being told to you, but you most certainly can feel it. If you’re looking for a quick thrill or some action-packed sci-fi, this is not your movie — but if you’re interested in watching something that redeems the values of art-making in the last century, then this is your film.
Check out the first minute of the film in the above video, then go get yourself a copy.