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Chris Marker

Memories of the Future

Chris Marker is one of the most extraordinary and influential filmmakers of our time. In landmark films such as Letter from Siberia, La Jetée, Sans Soleil, and Level Five, he has overturned cinematic conventions by confounding the distinction between documentary and fiction, writing and visual recording, and the still and moving image. Yet these works are only the tip of the iceberg; Marker’s career has also encompassed writing, photography, television, and digital multimedia.

Chris Marker is the first systematic examination of Marker’s complete oeuvre. Here, Catherine Lupton traces the development and transformation of the artist’s work from the late 1940s, when he began to work as a poet, novelist, and critic for the French journal Esprit, through the 1990s and the release of his most recent works, including Level Five and the CD-ROM Immemory. Lupton explicates Marker’s work as a circular trajectory, with each project recycling and referring back to earlier works as well as to a host of adopted texts, always proceeding by oblique association and lateral digression. This trajectory, which Lupton outlines with great care and precision, is critical to understanding Marker’s abiding obsession: the forms and operations of human memory. With this theme as her architecture, Lupton presents the most comprehensive and incisive analysis of Marker to date.

Incorporating historical events and cultural contexts that have informed each phase of Marker’s career, Lupton gives readers access to an artist who stands outside of the mainstream and thus defies easy explanation. There is no better guide than Lupton’s to this modern master’s prolific and multidimensional career.

Distribution by the University of Chicago Press only to customers in the USA and Canada. Customers elsewhere should visit the UK website of Reaktion Books.

256 pages | 147 halftones | 6.25 x 9.4 | © 2004

Art: Art--General Studies

Culture Studies

Film Studies

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"A gentle, firm, lucid tracking down of the greatest ever movie essayist . . . There could not be a better introduction."

David Thomson | The Week

"Lupton’s book is. . . a thoroughly necessary guide"

Modern Painters

"Her prose is refreshingly jargon-free . . .Lupton draws thematic connections between isolated moments in Marker’s films with an ease born of familiarity, and her film analyses are lucid and interesting . . . the first complete English-language survey of Marker’s work is an invaluable reference."

James Ervin | Rain Taxi

"This is the first study of him in English to reveal the full scope of a luminous career . . . Lupton steers through the maze of Marker’s world with admirable clear-headedness and isn’t afraid to point out when he might fall short of greatness. . . . satisfyingly complex."


"A highly recommended Chris Marker primer and a much-welcome addition to the growing debate and interest around his work outside of France."

Mikael Astronomeow | Film Comment

"Helpfully supplies some background about his path to cinema. . . . Its greatest value lies in the sheer amount of information about Marker. . . . Lupton does justice to the artist behind the persona."

Steve Erickson | Cineaste

"Provides comprehensive insights into the enigmatic auteur and his unpredictable career."

Leslie Woodhead | The Times Higher Education Supplement

"A succinct, comprehensive account of [Marker’s] work."

Emilie Bickerton | London Review of Books

Table of Contents

Introduction: Free Radical
1. The Invention of Chris Marker
2. Travels in a Small Planet
3. A Moment in Time
4. A Grin Without a Cat
5. Into the Zone
6. Memories of the Future
Conclusion: The Eye that Writes
Illustration Credits

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