Most of French director Chris Marker's films are documentaries (at least, of a sort), but he remains best known internationally for his beautiful 1962 “La Jetée,” a half-hour science-fiction film, whose technique reflects its central theme — the nature of time and memory. (Terry Gilliam's “Twelve Monkeys” was technically a remake; for better or worse, it retained more of the plot than of the technique or tone.) Hitchcock's “Vertigo” is referenced in both “La Jetée” and the other film on this collection, Marker's 1983 documentary “Sans Soleil,” which has a poetry of its own.
The transfer is very nice, but the earlier Criterion DVD was good enough that owners may pass on upgrading. For years, Marker insisted that American video releases of “La Jetée” use only the alternate English narration. The Blu-ray defaults to this version, but it also allows you to switch to English subtitles and French narration — the preference of nearly all its original American fans.
Not surprisingly, the extras focus primarily on the shorter film. There is an interesting 10-minute view of Marker; an exploration of the influence of “Vertigo”; and a quick demonstration of the Marker images that Michel Gondry appropriated for the David Bowie video “Jump They Say.” Erstwhile Godard collaborator Jean-Pierre Gorin has insightful things to say about both films, for about 20 minutes each. “San Soleil” is also accompanied by “Junkdopia,” another Marker short.
"La Jetée" and "Sans Soleil" (Criterion, Blu-ray, $39.95)
-- Andy KleinCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun