The Koumiko Mystery
If I Had Four Dromedaries
The peripatetic and famously elusive Marker created this film essay, his first account of Tokyo, during the Olympic games, acting as usual in the triple role of cameraman, scenarist, and editor. The tour of Tokyo is conducted by Koumiko Muraoka, a young Japanese woman the director claims to have discovered in the crowds at the games. Mixing elements of the city symphony – street scenes, neon signs, crowds, the monorail – with fragments of comic books and other cultural materials, Marker creates a rich portrait of modern-day Tokyo.
If I Had Four Dromedaries (Si j’avais quatre dromadaires)Directed by Chris Marker.
France/West Germany, 1966, digital video, black & white, 49 min.
French with English subtitles.
Composed entirely of still photographs shot by Marker himself over the course of his restless travel through twenty-six countries, If I Had Four Dromedaries stages a probing, at times agitated, search for the meanings of the photographic image, in the form of an extended voiceover conversation and debate between the "amateur photographer" credited with the images and two of his colleagues. Anticipating later writings by Roland Barthes and Susan Sontag (who professed her admiration for the film) If I Had Four Dromedaries reveals Marker's instinctual understanding of the secret rapport between still and moving image.