Level Five

Directed by Chris Marker.
With Catherine Belkhodja, Kenji Tokitsu, Nagisa Oshima.
France, 1997, digital video, color, 110 min.
French, English, Japanese with English subtitles.

A computer programmer named Laura has a Skype-like call with a phantom incarnation of Chris Marker about her attempt to make a videogame about the Battle of Okinawa. This is the premise of Marker’s moving docufiction Level Five,a film that locates this battle as an origin of the nuclear paranoia that has shifted into both human and digital memory—and forgetting. Marker’s film rests at the uneasy and fascinating juncture between phenomenological, cultural-memory-driven essay film and speculative technofiction. Not unlike David Foster Wallace’s mid-90s novel Infinite Jest, Marker intuits the possibility of storytelling-via-hyperlink, drawing disparate fragments into a meditative web. For Marker, human bodies and Internet-connected machines rest less in inherent opposition than as different forms of networked and complexly overlapping epistemes; while they constitute flashes and fragments of insight, they are always prone to disappearing, like Laura herself, into the void of nonbeing.

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