Thursday 5 January 2023

Si j'avais 4 dromadaires (Chris Marker, 1966)

Playing at Closeup Cinema in London on January 29, 2023. There'll be some surprise shorts screened before Marker's film. – EK

Marker's underseen masterpiece, Si j'avais 4 dromadaires [If I Had Four Camels], with its originality and sole reliance on still photographs stands next to his best known work, La Jetée (1962). The photographs incorporated into the film were taken between 1956 and 1966 in many different countries (Greece, Russia, Iran, Cuba, China, France, Japan) as Marker was working for the Petite Planète travel guides or taking snap shots of his favourite people.  Here, he offers his own travel guide to a changing word, a "Marker Planet" narrated by a mysterious, world-weary traveller who speaks like a poet and thinks like a philosopher. The narration evolves into three voices with contrasting opinions about the role of photography in constructing collective cultural memory. With an endless sense of irony and the quiet investigating of photographic image, this is one of the great works of the 60s. – Ehsan Khoshbakht

There is life and there is its double, and the photograph is part of the world of the double. When you approach [the faces of the photographed], you have the impression that you participate in their life and in the death of live faces, of human faces. But this is not true: if you participate in anything, it is in their life and in the death of images. – Chris Marker

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