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Chris Marker - The Left Bank French New Wave Movement

Updated: Dec 3, 2021

Welcome to the ninth insertion of DEMUR®, a series where we will be highlighting some of the most interesting topics in all of art. This week we’ll be looking into the depths of the Left Bank French New Wave Movement, through the cinematic lens of filmmaker Chris Marker.

Though Chris Marker’s portfolio is renowned in the cinema world, his biography is vastly more elusive and vague, even his birthplace frequently disputed nine years after his passing. Christian-François Bouche-Villeneuve, the real name behind a wall of pseudonyms, is a jack of all trades, viewing cinema akin to other mediums of speech and liberty. A social activist and incredibly influential persona, ‘Chris Marker’ altered the world of art throughout the 19th century.

The French new wave movement began from a starve of creativity and culture. Rewinding to the 1950’s - post-war France, a desperate need for complex artistic media was found as a result of combat induced mainstream content. In short, artists were finally at bay with the world, free of the repressive utilitarian structure throughout World War II. Creativity was now embraced, a new era of film makers and cinema prepared to take on the globe by rejecting industry norms in pursuit of full creative control. Names such as Jean-Luc Godard, François Truffaut, and Éric Rohmer fought tooth and nail against the leading cinematic labels, birthing both a movement of freedom and “auteur theory”, the process in which a director has full control of their project.

Chris Marker Imagery for Comme Des Garcons

The French movement was split into both the left and right bank, Chris Marker choosing alliance with the older, less “movie-crazed” left. Through still images and a slim budget, Marker stripped the limited array of 1950’s film techniques to convey ideas of the unorthodox. He created famed productions like ‘La Jeteé’ (1962), ‘A Grin Without a Cat’ (1977), ‘Sans Soleil’ (1983) and many more through inventive techniques, conforming to his budget whilst bending the minds of onlookers. His restrictive economic standing forced him to resolve a new identity in the world of cinema, most notably inventing the essay format in which he could speak to viewers through his signature montage films.


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