Description of a Struggle
Chris Marker’s 1960 voyage to Israel resulted in one of his key early works, an exploration of the then only twelve-year-old nation as a world replete with over-determined signs and meaning forged by intense geopolitical pressures and by forces of still indefinite change. Marker's cautious optimism and belief in the kind of ideals embodied in the kibbutz movement gives a richer tremor to the characteristically wry and world-weary poetry of his voice-over commentary. After the Six Day War radically changed the course of Israel and the entire Middle East, Marker withdrew Description of a Struggle, and it has remained largely unavailable until the recent restoration by the Jerusalem Film Archive.
One of his only extended forays into fiction, La Jetée is constructed (with one crucial, brief exception) from still photographs that are combined in serial fashion with voiceover narration and music. The result is one of cinema’s most compelling works, a love story set in a bleak future and involving time travel and memory. After the destruction of civilization by war, a member of the underground survivor community, haunted by glimpses of a barely recalled face, is sent by scientists back to the past to look for a key to humanity’s salvation. There he finds a lover, love of the world when it was still alive, and traces of his earlier self. This ecstatic, lyrical film conveys the pain and weight of modern history and the intense power of images.