I love Sei Shonagon’s “Pillow Book” and the way Marker uses it in Sunless (a “monumental” essay film?) to create a random structure for the film.
This is in relation to an iBook project that several people have been involved with (it is hopefully to be published as part of a journal shortly so sort of need to keep details reasonably quiet until then). The ‘monumental’ comment responds to a recent post entitled ‘no more monuments‘. I’m a big fan of Markers and I think this comment is really interesting.
I’m pretty sure Jeni doesn’t think Sunless is a monumental film, but it’s a good question. On the one hand it is because of its status and reputation, but that is something that has been built outside of the film itself. The film, well, mostly just filmed by Marker, narration written by Marker. Very low budget, material collected over several years and possibly several journeys, using different cameras and stock. It has all the hallmarks of a proto long form video blog where otherwise disparate bits are collected and curated through the narration into a meditative whole. But its ambitions are minor (in Deleuze and Guattari’s sense). It makes documentary as a larger (and possibly monumentalising form) stutter. It has a lot to say and do, it is dense, but this is a consequence of its relation to the world and itself which is in contrast to those films that think the world is not particularly thick and dense but say what they want to say very loudly. Marker, in contrast, is a whisper, sketching associations and connections and possibilities it is closer to Bachelard than agit-prop. So no, it is film that revels in the ephemerality of culture and things and film, it does so with modesty, and erudition is something we don’t want confused with bombast.Tags: cinema, documentary, practice