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Widely considered the greatest "essay film" ever made, Chris Marker's Proustian travelogue traverses Iceland, Paris, San Francisco, Guinea-Bissau and a hypermodern Tokyo as it ruminates on memory's perpetual struggle with the incessant passage of time.
The Proustian film par excellence and widely considered the greatest "essay film" ever made, Sans Soleil collects the memories of a nomadic and unseen cinematographer who ruminates upon an image of three blond children in Iceland, stares into the faces of women in a market in Guinea-Bissau, goes on an obsessive pilgrimage to San Francisco to revisit the locations of Hitchcock's Vertigo, and returns "home" to the semiotic jungle of Tokyo, with its cat cults and singing statues of JFK. (Among many other things, Sans Soleil is perhaps the best outsider's view of Japan in all of cinema.) With references to Tarkovsky (the Zone) and Marker's own La Jetée, Sans Soleil suggests that fixing an image on film is part of the quest for the "perfection of memory." Musing, melancholy, and musical (the title refers to a Mussorgsky song cycle), Sans Soleil searches the world for that perfection. "One of the ten best of the decade" (J. Hoberman, The Village Voice).