Sans Soleil (French for “Sunless”)
“A meditation on the nature of human memory, showing the inability to recall the context and nuances of memory, and how, as a result, the perception of personal and global history is affected.”
This film deliberates on the human nature, memory, Kino eye, history and culture. Told through the facade of the travelling cameraman, Sandor Krasna, who sent letters to a French woman who is now narrating his story.
When we think of documentaries we expect the typical interviews, a host/guide, a few reconstructions along with some actuality or archive footage to go alongside. Sans Soleil isn’t structured like the typical documentary as it’s told through the eyes of two fictional characters but having footage of real-life events that portray the culture and history.
It is an experimental documentary that takes political events and turns them personal as we are viewing and understanding the events through the eyes of the character. This makes us feel their emotions and share their opinions. We are hearing about politics in a personal way, in a way that we are not used to as politics is portrayed as dates and statistics. We view them here in a way that impacts human life.
I found my interest fluctuating throughout the film as I was unsure how I felt while watching it. I was confused at various points to what was going on. In saying this, when Marker was discussing a society’s culture and history, it was very revealing which made it very fascinating. A part that stood out to me was when he was talking about film and production and how girls were high wanted in the sector. “He learned it was how little girls who made and unmade stars, and that producers trembled before them”. It shows how desperate the need for young female actresses was which makes me feel slightly uneasy as to why they were so in demand. Another point that took out to me was how important image was and how it is a big part of society. “He was told that a disfigured woman took off her mask in front passers-by and scratched them if they didn’t find her beautiful.” It shows how important beauty was and still is. He realised the importance of image and how it made you socially accepted. It relates to current time as image is still very important to be accepted and live up to societies standards. Society blames celebrities and social media for making them feel ugly, like an outcast, when we are social media, we have built it in this way and it will grow in this way which is very unfortunate. This idea of a perfect image was also incorporated in horror films. “Japanese horror movies have the shy beauty of certain corpses.” This has connotations of being perfect till we die which again puts pressure on image and self-esteem of the viewer. It portrays how society was like back in the day in terms of beauty standards and appearance which in my honest opinion has not changed very much.
In conclusion, the topics presented and covered were very captivating. It made me think in depth about the way we think about things, and how culture and history have shaped us today.
“If the images of the present don’t change, change the images of the past.”
Sans Soleil. (1983). [film] Directed by C. Marker. France: Argos Films.